Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty member and, internal medicine, gastroenterologist and transplant expert Prof. Dr. Nevin Yılmaz made a statement on the symptoms of COVID-19 and digestive system. Stating that diarrhea might be listed as one of the symptoms of COVID-19, Prof. Dr. Yılmaz continued her statement as follows:
“Since December 2019, the primary symptoms of COVID-19 are known as fever, cry cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and, loss of taste or smell. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. However, the latest reports suggest that COVID-19 can manifest itself with “digestive system symptoms” whether the common symptoms regarding breath exist or not. The new symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomachache and lack of appetite. Some recent studies show that over the half of COVID-19 patients lost their appetites; nearly one-third of the patients who show mild symptoms are to experience diarrhea which tends to be the first sign of COVID-19 in the patient group. It has been reported that the aforementioned COVID-19 cases do not have severe diarrhea, nearly one-third of the patients do not show any sign of fever and the infection period can be between 5 to 14 days.
The problem is that the patients in question go to the hospital later than the ones who experience breathing struggles and, even though they are showing mild symptoms of the disease, the possibility of these patients to get more and more people infected is rather high. Moreover, the occurrence of symptoms on the digestive system indicate the possibility of virus causing COVID-19 to be an excrement-borne disease. The new series of case studies conducted in China confirm that three COVID-19 patients who had negative throat swabs, and whom two out of the three experienced diarrhea, had virus in their feces.
Therefore, during the pandemic period, it is wise to be aware of possible symptoms that could appear in digestive system and, to be careful with the hygiene and sanitation just as people do with the infectious diarrhea cases. The fecal–oral transmission pathways which are commonly referred to as the five ‘F’ in standard infectious diarrhea are fluids, fields, flies, fingers and food. Keeping hands clean by using disinfectants is the primary and most effective way of preventing the COVID-19 infection. Hygienic preparation of food is another way of preventing infectious diarrhea.
As a result; case reports and lab work on COVID-19 mode of transmission via digestive system are continuing. It is important to take measures against fecal-oral infection risk.”