The disease COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 which can be detected in faeces. Current detection methods rely largely on molecular techniques to identify unique genetic material for the virus, SARS-CoV-2 . Genetic material can be detected in both viable (“living”) and non-viable or inactivated (“killed”) viruses so its detection does not mean the individual is necessarily infected or that the faeces is infectious.

It is possible to detect viruses using culture-based techniques, which provide information on the viability of the virus, but these methods are more difficult, particularly for SARS-CoV-2, and time-consuming than most molecular techniques, which is why they are less frequently used.

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: 13.08.2020

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