Several studies in different countries have detected SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in the faeces of individuals with COVID-19 (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4). SARS-CoV-2 genetic material has been detected in the stool of COVID-19 patients with and without gastrointestinal symptoms (Study 1, Study 2) and in recovered individuals who no longer have any symptoms (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3). 

However, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in stool does not necessarily indicate infection or disease. A few studies have attempted to detect viable, infectious virus from stool with mixed results; three studies reported detection of live virus (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3) in stool and one reported no detection of live virus despite detection of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material (Study 3). Please refer to this response which explains how the virus is detected in stool samples and this response to understand the risk of faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19.

Want to know more about faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19?

Editor's note

Author: Jackie Knee

Review: Tom Heath, Robert Dreibelbis, Oliver Cumming, Karin Gallandat, Kate Medlicott
Last update: 21.05.2020

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