Covid-19: UK studies find gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children

Authors: Susan Mayor BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3484 (Published 07 September 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3484

Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children infected with SARS-CoV-2 and should trigger tests for the virus, researchers have said.

A prospective study of 992 healthy children (median age 10.1 years) of healthcare workers from across the UK found that 68 (6.9%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.1 Half of the children testing positive reported no symptoms, but for those that did the commonest were fever (21 of 68, 31%); gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps (13 of 68, 19%); and headache (12 of 68, 18%).

Latest findings from the Covid-19 Symptom Study app,2 which was launched in late March to track people’s symptoms, also show that gastrointestinal symptoms occur frequently in children with positive swab tests.3

Tom Waterfield, lead author of the antibodies study, told The BMJ, “Based on our findings I think that gastrointestinal symptoms should be added to the current list—high temperature, cough, and loss or change in sense of smell or taste—that trigger testing for coronavirus.” He added, “Diarrhoea and vomiting in children should trigger a test.”

Modelling showed that gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly associated with the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, in addition to known household contact with confirmed SARS-CoV-2, fatigue, and changes in sense of smell or taste.

“Although diarrhoea and vomiting may not be on the official covid-19 testing strategy, we need to be cautious in children with these symptoms,” said Waterfield, senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and paediatric emergency medicine physician at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. “They need to have had 48 hours clear of gastrointestinal symptoms before they go back to school to help reduce the potential spread of the virus.”

Tim Spector, the study lead and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said, “Looking at data from 250 000 children we found those with a positive swab test have a different range of symptoms to adults. Cough and shortness of breath are much less frequent and gastrointestinal problems, especially loss of appetite, more frequent. Fever is still a feature, as in adults.”

He said that the study confirmed the need to add a wider range of symptoms to those listed for covid-19. “Around 50% of children did not have the three core adult symptoms (high temperature, cough, and loss or change in sense of smell or taste) and may present with a wide range of non-specific symptoms, such as malaise and loss of appetite, although skin rash affected one in six,” he said. “The key is for parents to keep children at home with these non-specific signs until they feel better, until tests get more rapid and accessible.”

Spector is asking parents to start logging information for their children on the app, which invites users to report regularly on their health. He added that the team is adding school specific features to help provide data on infection rates related to schools.

References

  1. Waterfield T, Watson C, Moore R, et al. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in children: a prospective multicentre cohort study. medRxiv 2020.08.31.20183095 [Preprint]. 2 September 2020. www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.31.20183095v1.
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    https://covid.joinzoe.com/data.Google Scholar
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    . Covid-19: Researchers launch app to track spread of symptoms in the UK. BMJ2020;368:m1263. doi:10.1136/bmj.m1263 pmid:32220898FREE Full Text

Study reveals mouth as primary source of COVID-19 infection

While most COVID-19 research has focused on the nose and lungs, this is the first study to identify the mouth as a primary site for coronavirus infection and underscores the importance of wearing a face covering and physical distancing.

By University Communications, Thursday, October 29th, 2020

A team of researchers led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reveals coronavirus can take hold in the salivary glands where it replicates, and in some cases, leads to prolonged disease when infected saliva is swallowed into the gastrointestinal tract or aspirated to the lungs where it can lead to pneumonia.

While most COVID-19 research has focused on the nose and lungs, this is the first study to identify the mouth as a primary site for coronavirus infection and underscores the importance of wearing a face covering and physical distancing. The results have not been peer-reviewed.

“Our results show oral infection of COVID-19 may be underappreciated,” said senior study author Kevin M. Byrd, research instructor at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry and the Anthony R. Volpe Research Scholar at the American Dental Association Science and Research Institute. “Like nasal infection, oral infection could underlie the asymptomatic spread that makes this disease so hard to contain.”

Byrd along with Blake Warner, chief of the Salivary Disorders Unit at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, coordinated the research conducted at the National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Sanger Institute, UNC Marsico Lung Institute and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

Researchers are just beginning to explore the oral symptoms patients experience during COVID-19, such as loss of taste or smell and persistent dry mouth.

In the study, researchers report preliminary results from a clinical trial of 40 subjects with COVID-19 which showed sloughed epithelial cells lining the mouth can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The amount of virus in patient saliva was positively correlated with taste and smell changes, according to the study.

Relying on oral cell identity maps, researchers also looked at where in the mouth the virus infects. They surveyed oral tissues with the highest levels of ACE2, the receptor that helps coronavirus grab and invade human cells.

Based on ACE2 expression and analysis of cadaver tissue, the most likely sites of infection in the mouth are the salivary glands, tongue and tonsil, the study showed.

The findings provide more evidence of the role of saliva in COVID-19. COVID-19 infection, specifically in the mouth, can allow the virus to spread internally and to others as the infected person breathes, speaks and coughs.

For More Information: https://www.unc.edu/posts/2020/10/29/study-reveals-mouth-as-primary-source-of-covid-19-infection/

COVID-19-associated diarrhea

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jun 21; 27(23): 3208–3222.Published online 2021 Jun 21. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i23.3208PMCID: PMC8218355PMID: 34163106

Authors: Klara MegyeriÁron DernovicsZaid I I Al-Luhaibi, and András Rosztóczy

Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) recently emerged as a highly virulent respiratory pathogen that is known as the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Diarrhea is a common early symptom in a significant proportion of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2 can infect and replicate in esophageal cells and enterocytes, leading to direct damage to the intestinal epithelium. The infection decreases the level of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors, thereby altering the composition of the gut microbiota. SARS-CoV-2 elicits a cytokine storm, which contributes to gastrointestinal inflammation. The direct cytopathic effects of SARS-CoV-2, gut dysbiosis, and aberrant immune response result in increased intestinal permeability, which may exacerbate existing symptoms and worsen the prognosis. By exploring the elements of pathogenesis, several therapeutic options have emerged for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, such as biologics and biotherapeutic agents. However, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the feces may facilitate the spread of COVID-19 through fecal-oral transmission and contaminate the environment. Thus gastrointestinal SARS-CoV-2 infection has important epidemiological significance. The development of new therapeutic and preventive options is necessary to treat and restrict the spread of this severe and widespread infection more effectively. Therefore, we summarize the key elements involved in the pathogenesis and the epidemiology of COVID-19-associated diarrhea.

For More Information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8218355/

GUT SYMPTOMS LINKED WITH COVID-19: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW

Literature Review of COVID-19 G.I. Complications

Authors: Md. Rayhan Mahmud, University of Helsinki, Md Karim Uddin, University of Helsinki, Md. Sajjad Hossain, Jagannath University – Bangladesh, Sharmin Akter, Jagannath University – Bangladesh

Gastrointestinal Symptoms Associated With Unfavorable Prognosis of COVID-19 Patients: A Retrospective

The roles of nausea and vomiting in COVID-19: did we miss something?ArticleFull-text available

ACE2 imbalance as a key player for the poor outcomes in COVID-19 patients with age-related comorbidities – Role of gut microbiota dysbiosis

COVID-19 and the gastrointestinal tract: More than meets the eye

Clinical Features of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Presented Gastrointestinal Symptoms But Without Fever Onset

Gastrointestinal symptoms associated with COVID-19: impact on the gut microbiome

Gastrointestinal Symptoms and outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Gut microbiota and Covid-19- possible link and implications

For More Information: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353917998_GUT_SYMPTOMS_LINKED_WITH_COVID-19_A_SYSTEMATIC_REVIEW

Long covid: How to define it and how to manage it

Authors: Nikki Nabavi, editorial scholar

“Profound fatigue” was a common symptom in most people with long covid, she said, but added that a wide range of other symptoms included cough, breathlessness, muscle and body aches, and chest heaviness or pressure, but also skin rashes, palpitations, fever, headache, diarrhoea, and pins and needles. “A very common feature is the relapsing, remitting nature of the illness, where you feel as though you’ve recovered, then it hits you back,” she said.

Nick Peters added to this definition by highlighting a “distinction between very sick people who have recovered to an extent and [and have been] left with some impact of their severe sickness, versus those who had a relatively mild sickness from the start, in whom it is ongoing.”

Alwan described the fluctuations of her own illness: “It’s a constant cycle of disappointment, not just to you but people around you, who really want you to recover.”

Paul Garner, who also has long covid, described it as a “very bizarre disease” that had left him feeling “repeatedly battered the first two months” and then experiencing lesser episodes in the subsequent four months with continual fatigue. “Navigating help is really difficult,” he said.

Tim Spector said that his team at the Covid Symptom Study had identified six clusters of symptoms for covid-19,1 a couple of which were associated with longer term symptoms, indicating a possible way of predicting early on what might occur. “If you’ve got a persistent cough, hoarse voice, headache, diarrhoea, skipping meals, and shortness of breath in the first week, you are two to three times more likely to get longer term symptoms,” he said.

He said that patterns in the team’s data suggested that long covid was about twice as common in women as in men and that the average age of someone presenting with it was about four years older than people who had what might be termed as “short covid.”

But Spector added, “We do seem to be getting different symptom clusters in different ages, so it could be that there is a different type in younger people compared with the over 65s. As we get more data we should be able to break it into these groups and work out what is going on … which could be very interesting and help us to get early interventions for those at-risk groups.”

Peters said that the data showed fatigue was the most common trait in people who had symptoms beyond three weeks. He also said that around 80% of people who had symptoms lasting more than three weeks reported “having had clear good days and bad days.”

For More Information: https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3489