Study reveals Covid-19 can infect ears

Updated on Jul 25, 2020 02:07 PM IST

The findings revealed the virus’ presence inside the middle ear and in the mastoid area of the head of Covid-19 patients.

Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) are seen inside an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for patients suffering from the coronavirus disease.(REUTERS)
Medical workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) are seen inside an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for patients suffering from the coronavirus disease.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Sparshita Saxena

While Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, a recent study suggests that the virus can infect the ear as well. The study, which was published in the scientific journal JAMA, was based on the autopsy carried out on three patients who died from Covid-19. The findings revealed the virus’ presence inside the middle ear and in the mastoid area of the head. The mastoid is a hollow bone behind the ear.

The research was carried out with the team removing the mastoids from the deceased patients’ bodies and taking specimens from their middle ears. Mastoid specimens from two patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

“Two of the 3 patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus in the mastoid or middle ear, with viral isolation from 2 of 6 mastoids and 3 of 6 middle ears. Results for case 1 were positive for the right middle ear only. Case 2 had negative results for all samples,” the study stated.

Also read: Nearly 49,000 fresh Covid-19 take India’s tally to over 13.36 lakh

“This study confirms the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the middle ear and mastoid, with significant implications for otolaryngology procedures,” it added.

The team calls for taking proper precautions to stop the spread of infection in patients visiting hospitals or during surgical procedures.

“Droplet precautions (including eye protection and proper N95 level mask) are warranted for outpatient procedures involving the middle ear due to proximity to these potentially infectious spaces. Given the high asymptomatic rate of Covid-19 cases, caution is warranted for all elective ear surgery, and negative status by testing is indicated,” the study stated.

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