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Presentation typeOral presentation
TitleCorrelating the detectability of SARS-CoV-2 in tears with general and ocular symptoms: a prospective clinical study in hospitalized symptomatic patients.
PurposeSince December 2019, COVID-19 has been causing flu-like symptoms occasionally resulting in acute respiratory distress syndrome. Ocular manifestations have been reported sporadically with conjunctivitis being the main symptom. The aim of this study is not only to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the tear film but also to detect viable and replicating virus, thereby proving a possible transmission route through tears.
MethodsWe conducted a prospective study on 30 hospitalized patients with a nasopharyngeal swab positive for SARS-CoV-2 via qPCR. Serial conjunctival swabbing was performed every 3 days until discharge. On the first day of inclusion, patients also completed a questionnaire evaluating their symptoms. Subgenomic (sg) RNA-testing, as a marker for viral replication, and viral cultures, in order to confirm viability, was performed in case of a positive conjunctival swab.
ResultsFifteen percent reported conjunctivitis-like symptoms, none of these patients reported conjunctivitis as the first COVID-19 symptom. In total 176 swabs were collected. Thirteen swabs of 7 patients were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Consecutive conjunctival positivity was found in only 2 out of 7 patients. In 6 conjunctival samples sgRNA was detected and 2 of these samples had a positive viral culture.
ConclusionOur study confirms that conjunctivitis is among the spectrum of COVID-19 symptoms and that SARS-Cov-2 can be retrieved from the tear film. The detection of sgRNA in the tears and the positive viral cultures confirm the replication and viability of the virus in the tears signifying that SARS-Cov-2 should be considered as a possible transmission route in daily practice.
Conflict of interestNo
Details of conflicting interestsGeen.
Authors 1
Last nameLEYSEN
Authors 2
Last nameDesmet
Authors 3
Last nameBlanckaert
Authors 4
Last nameMatthys
Authors 5
Last nameSchauwvlieghe
Authors 6
Last nameJoossens
Authors 7
Last nameMaes
Authors 8
Last nameCasteels
Authors 9
Last nameSaelens
Authors 10
Last nameVan Keer
Authors 11
Last nameDelbeke
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