Excretion and detection of SARS coronavirus and its nucleic acid from digestive system

World J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jul 28;11(28):4390-5. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v11.i28.4390.


Aim: To study whether severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) could be excreted from digestive system.

Methods: Cell culture and semi-nested RT-PCR were used to detect SARS-CoV and its RNA from 21 stool and urine samples, and a kind of electropositive filter media particles was used to concentrate the virus in 10 sewage samples from two hospitals receiving SARS patients in Beijing in China.

Results: It was demonstrated that there was no live SARS-CoV in all samples collected, but the RNA of SARS-CoV could be detected in seven stool samples from SARS patients with any one of the symptoms of fever, malaise, cough, or dyspnea, in 10 sewage samples before disinfection and 3 samples after disinfection from the two hospitals. The RNA could not be detected in urine and stool samples from patients recovered from SARS.

Conclusion: Nucleic acid of SARS-CoV can be excreted through the stool of patients into sewage system, and the possibility of SARS-CoV transmitting through digestive system cannot be excluded.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Digestive System / virology*
  • Disinfection
  • Feces / virology
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology*
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / genetics
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Sewage / virology


  • RNA, Viral
  • Sewage