The coronavirus has a slew of terrible symptoms, and some of them can even fall into the 'strange' category. One of those is gastrointestinal symptoms, which is quite odd for a primarily respiratory infection.
Those symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting, and while the Centers For Disease and Prevention (CDC) hasn't included them in the official COVID-19 symptoms, they do mention that people, and especially children may experience them. But why is this the case? Scientists from Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, and Maastricht University in the Netherlands decided to explore that question, and found that the virus is capable of infecting the epithelial cells of the intestine.
The scientists grew an artificial gut (organoids) from adult human stem cells and infected it with SARS-CoV-2. The scientists observed the virus hooking up to the same ACE2 receptor that is in the lungs. Once hooked up to the ACE2 receptor, they begin to invade cells, and the replication process of the virus begins, and thus the spreading. Hubrecht Institute's Hans Clevers told said to SciTech Daily, "These organoids contain the cells of the human intestinal lining, making them a compelling model to investigate infection by SARS-CoV-2".
Erasmus MC's Bart Haagmans, said, "The observations made in this study provide definite proof that SARS-CoV-2 can multiply in cells of the gastrointestinal tract. However, we don't yet know whether SARS-CoV-2, present in the intestines of COVID-19 patients, plays a significant role in transmission. Our findings indicate that we should look into this possibility more closely."
While these findings are good, they are incomplete as scientists don't know if patients who are showing these specific symptoms are infectious or not, and how long the body takes to clear out of the gut of an infection. More research still needs to be done.
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