Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a recently emerged infection from a novel coronavirus.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are frequently observed in patients with SARS.
In this study, physicians from Hong Kong have described the clinical, pathologic, and virologic features of intestinal involvement in SARS infection.
|20% of patients presented with watery diarrhea.|
The team performed a retrospective analysis of the gastrointestinal symptoms in the first 138 patients with confirmed SARS.
They obtained intestinal specimens at colonoscopy or postmortem. These were used to detect the presence of coronavirus.
The physicians found that 20% of the patients presented with watery diarrhea.
Overall, 38% of patients had symptoms of diarrhea during the course of their illness. This was more frequently observed during the first week of illness.
The team determined that diarrhea lasted an average of 3.7 days. Most was self-limiting.
The intestinal biopsy specimens showed minimal architectural disruption. However, the team identified active viral replication within both the small and large intestine.
They were able to detected SARS-coronavirus RNA in the stool of patients more than 10 weeks after symptom onset.
Dr Wai Leung's team concluded, "Diarrhea is a common presenting symptom of SARS".
"The intestinal tropism of the SARS-conoavirus has major implications on clinical presentation and viral transmission".