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In addition to respiratory droplets, the novel coronavirus that has sickened thousands globally may also transmit through the digestive tract, specifically the fecal-oral route, according to a report.
Scientists from the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Science recently discovered “virus genetic material” in stool samples and rectal swabs from some patients, Chinese state media reported,
In the digestive system, besides esophagus upper and stratified epithelial cells, ACE2 was also found in the absorptive enterocytes from ileum and colon, the most vulnerable intestinal epithelial cells. In microbe infections, the intestinal epithelial cells function as a barrier and help to coordinate immune responses. The absorptive enterocytes can be infected by coronavirus, rotavirus and noroviruses, resulting in diarrhea by destructing absorptive enterocytes, malabsorption, unbalanced intestinal secretion and activated enteric nervous system[36-38]. Thus, we suppose that the enteric symptom of diarrhea might be associated with the invaded ACE2-expressing enterocytes. In addition, due to the high expression of cell receptor ACE2 in esophagus upper and stratified epithelial cells and absorptive enterocytes from ileum and colon, we suppose that digestive system can be invaded by 2019-nCov and serve as a route of infection.
Note that clinical laboratories should NOT attempt viral isolation from specimens collected from 2019-nCoV PUIs.
At this time, diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV can be conducted only at CDC.