Intestinal Shedding of SARS-CoV-2 in Children: No Evidence for Infectious Potential

Filomena Nogueira, Klara Obrova, Meryl Haas, Evelyn Tucek, Karin Kosulin, Michaela Fortschegger, Paola Fürhacker, Christina Walter, Lisa Größlinger, Susanne Peter, Julia Othman Hassan, Martin Probst, Hans Salzer, Thomas Lion

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

1 Citation (Scopus)


The clinical courses of COVID-19 in children are often mild and may remain undiagnosed, but prolonged intestinal virus shedding has been documented, thus potentially enabling fecal-oral transmission. However, the infectious potential of SARS-CoV-2 viruses excreted with feces has remained unclear. Here, we investigated 247 stool specimens from 213 pediatric patients to assess the prevalence of intestinal SARS-CoV-2 shedding in hospitalized children without or with COVID-19 and determined the infectious capacity of stool-borne viruses. Upon RT-qPCR screening, the infectivity of virus-positive samples was tested in cell culture using the Vero-E6 permissive cell line. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected by RT-qPCR in 32 (13%) stool specimens, but the analysis of virus-positive samples in cell culture revealed no cytopathic effects attributable to SARS-CoV-2-related cell damage. Our findings do not support the notion of potential fecal-oral SARS-CoV-2 spreading, thus questioning the role of hygienic measures designed to prevent this mode of viral transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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