Can coronavirus spread from toilet flush spray?

Coronavirus Updates

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Closing the lid after flushing could prove to be quite beneficial in reducing the spread of COVID-19, that’s according to a new computer modeling study used by Yangzhou University in China.

The study shows how flushing a toilet can send a cloud of little particles that contain fecal matter that may contain coronaviruses into the air.

Coronavirus can live and replicate in the human digestive system, this has been shown by doctors. In addition, evidence of the virus has been detected in human waste – which could pose a potential risk of spreading the deadly virus.

READ: Utah sewage study helps track spread of COVID-19

The computer modeling study has shows that water from a flushed toilet could spray up to as high as three feet in the air.

Ji-Xiang Wang of Yangzhou University, who worked on the study said in a statement “one can foresee that the velocity will be even higher when a toilet is used frequently, such as in the case of a family toilet during a busy time or a public toilet serving a densely populated area.”

Researchers have also suggested that toilets may provide another way of spreading COVID-19. In April, Carmen McDermott of the University of Washington School of Medicine said “already, evidence of SARS-CoV-2 contamination of surface and air samples outside of isolation rooms, and experimental data showing that SARS-CoV-2 can live in aerosols for 3 hours, should raise concerns about this mode of transmission and prompt additional research.”

McDermott and her colleagues also added in the Journal of Hospital Infection article that “Fecal shedding seems to occur in patients without gastrointestinal symptoms, which could enable asymptomatic individuals with no respiratory symptoms to be a source of fecal transmission.”

So far one researcher who was not involved in the study says the risk of spreading coronavirus from toilet flush spray does make sense, even if it’s theoretical.

Bryan Bzdek, an aerosol researcher at Britain’s University of Bristol said in a statement “the viral load in fecal matter and the fraction of resulting aerosol containing the virus is unknown. Even if the virus were contained in the produced aerosols, it is unknown whether the virus would still be infectious; there is not yet clear evidence for fecal-oral transmission.”

Authors of the study suggests that people should do their best to keep the toilet seat down while flushing, cleaning the toilet seat and other frequently touched surfaces often. Most importantly people should always practice good hand hygiene after every toilet use.

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