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Coronavirus stayed in woman's eyes for 20 days

By: Team Ifairer | Posted: 22-04-2020
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Coronavirus stayed in woman
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A COVID-19 patient in Italy had the coronavirus lingering in her eye longer than in her nose, according to a case study. The unnamed 65-year-old woman, Italy's first confirmed COVID-19 case, had travelled from Wuhan-the Chinese city which was the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic-to Italy on January 29, according to a research letter published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. She had arrived a day after her symptoms started.

The woman was taken to an isolation unit at Italy's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases hospital in Rome. Her COVID-19 symptoms included a dry cough and a sore throat. She also had and an inflamed nasal cavity, and conjunctivitis in both her eyes-which is thought to be a COVID-19 symptom.

The woman later developed a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and became nauseous. This happened on day four, but it was not clear if this was four days after her symptoms started or four days after she was admitted to hospital. A test confirmed she was infected with the coronavirus.

As her conjunctivitis wouldn't clear up, doctors decided to take a swab from her eye on her third day at the institution, and repeated this almost daily. The virus was present, but less concentrated, in her eye up to day 21. "Conjunctivitis greatly improved at day 15 and apparently resolved at day 20," the team wrote.

But it returned on day 27, five days after the coronavirus was apparently no longer present in the woman's eye. Doctors found genetic material from the virus in eye swabs days after it was no longer present in samples from the nose. The team said their findings suggest that eye fluids from COVID-19 patients "may be a potential source of infection."

"These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing." In addition, it re-emphasizes that opticians should wear personal protective equipment while examining patients, because the mucous membrane of the eye may not only be an entry site for viruses, but also a means of transmission, they said. Next, researchers should try to pinpoint the eye cells which enable the coronavirus to replicate, the team suggested.
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