Evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in fecal samples

Virol J. 2020 Jun 30;17(1):86. doi: 10.1186/s12985-020-01359-1.


The need for timely establishment of a complete diagnostic protocol of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is demanded worldwide. We selected 15 positive novel coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) patients with mild or no symptom. Initially, fecal samples were negative in the 67% (10/15) of the cases, while 33% (5/10) of the cases were positive. After serial virus RNA testing, 73% (11/15) of the cases resulted positive to fecal specimens. In particular, 15 days after the first positive respiratory specimens test, 6 fecal specimens became positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, while 13 respiratory test returned negative result. In conclusion, qRT-PCR assays of fecal specimens, is an important step to control infection, suggesting that samples remained positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA longer time then respiratory tract samples. Our results enhance the recent knowledge on this emerging infectious disease and offer suggestions for a more complete diagnostic strategy.

Keywords: Acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); Fecal specimens; Novel coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19); Respiratory specimens; SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / genetics
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Feces / virology*
  • Female
  • Genes, Viral / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Respiratory System / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Time Factors
  • Virus Shedding


  • RNA, Viral