Can you get coronavirus in your eyes? According to a new case study, you can. A woman had the coronavirus in her eye for 20 days—much longer than the virus stayed in her nose.
The unnamed 65-year-old woman was Italy’s first confirmed COVID-19 case. On January 29th, she traveled to Italy from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.
The day after she arrived in Italy, her symptoms began. Aside from the typical dry cough and sore throat, the woman also had an inflamed nasal cavity and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, in both eyes. A few days later, the woman developed a 100.4 degree Fahrenheit fever and became nauseous. She was treated in an isolation unit at Italy’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases hospital in Rome.
While the woman’s conjunctivitis improved by day 15, it wasn’t until day 20 that the condition resolved, according to a research letter published by the Annals of Internal Medicine. However, even though her conjunctivitis condition seemed to have cleared up, coronavirus was still present in her eyes until the 21st day after the woman’s symptoms began.
On day 27, the woman’s conjunctivitis condition returned, even though her eyes had supposedly been coronavirus-free for five days. Although the virus was no longer present in the woman’s nose, doctors discovered genetic material from the virus lingering on her eye swabs.
From their findings, the research team behind the case study concluded that eye fluids from COVID-19-positive patients can be a potential source of infection. They also noted that what they found further emphasizes the importance of hygienic practices: refraining from touching the eyes, mouth, face, as well as frequent handwashing.
Atypical Coronavirus Symptoms
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common COVID-19 symptoms are “fever, tiredness, and dry cough.” Less common symptoms include “aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.”
However, the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms seems to be on the rise. New research in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that half of 206 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with mild disease experienced digestive issues.
Some of the most reported atypical coronavirus symptoms include confusion and malaise. Severe confusion and inability to wake up are emergency warning signs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19-positive individuals usually experience such disorientation along with more common symptoms like a cough or a fever. Rarely has fatigue been reported as a symptom of COVID-19 without the presence of those symptoms that are more recognizable.
Other uncommon reported symptoms include headaches, dizziness, chills and muscle aches. While these symptoms may indicate a mild infection, Business Insider reports they could also signal more severe symptoms to come.
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