Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the tears and conjunctival secretions of Coronavirus disease 2019 patients
Introduction: Current studies suggest that tears and conjunctival secretions may be an important transmission route in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The study aims to evaluate the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus in tears and conjunctival secretion of patients with COVID-19.
Methodology: A prospective interventional case series study was performed, and 32 patients with COVID-19 were selected at the Pamukkale University Hospital from 15 to 22 May 2020. The tear and conjunctival samples were collected by a conjunctival swab. Each specimen was sent to the laboratory for reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses. To avoid cross-infection, gloves and personal protective equipment were changed after collecting each sample.
Results: 32 patients (18 male, 14 female) with Covid-19 were included in this cross-sectional study. The average age of the patients was 52.81 ± 16.76 years. By the time of the first collection of conjunctival-tear samples, the mean time of the onset of complaints was 6.84 ± 6.81 (1-35) days. Tear-conjunctival samples from 5 patients (16%) without conjunctivitis yielded positive PCR results, 3 of whom had positive and 2 negative nasopharyngeal PCR results.
Conclusions: Five of 32 patients (16 %) without conjunctivitis or any eye symptoms had viral RNA in their tear-conjunctival samples. The possibility of transmission via tears and conjunctival secretions should be recognized even in the absence of conjunctivitis or other ocular manifestations.
Copyright (c) 2020 Hüseyin Kaya, Ahmet Çalışkan, Mehmet Okul, Tuğba Sarı, İsmail Hakkı Akbudak
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