New-onset anosmia and ageusia in adult patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection.Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 Sep; 26(9):1236-1241.CM
We investigated the prevalence of anosmia and ageusia in adult patients with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of infection with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).
This was a retrospective observational analysis of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 admitted to hospital or managed in the community and their household contacts across a London population during the period March 1st to April 1st, 2020. Symptomatology and duration were extracted from routinely collected clinical data and follow-up telephone consultations. Descriptive statistics were used.
Of 386 patients, 141 (92 community patients, 49 discharged inpatients) were included for analysis; 77/141 (55%) reported anosmia and ageusia, nine reported only ageusia and three only anosmia. The median onset of anosmia in relation to onset of SARS-CoV-2 disease (COVID-19) symptoms (as defined by the Public Health England case definition) was 4 days (interquartile range (IQR) 5). Median duration of anosmia was 8 days (IQR 16). Median duration of COVID-19 symptoms in community patients was 10 days (IQR 8) versus 18 days (IQR 13.5) in admitted patients. As of April 1, 45 patients had ongoing COVID-19 symptoms and/or anosmia; 107/141 (76%) patients had household contacts, and of 185 non-tested household contacts 79 (43%) had COVID-19 symptoms with 46/79 (58%) reporting anosmia. Six household contacts had anosmia only.
Over half of the positive patients reported anosmia and ageusia, suggesting that these should be added to the case definition and used to guide self-isolation protocols. This adaptation may be integral to case findings in the absence of population-level testing. Until we have successful population-level vaccination coverage, these steps remain critical in the current and future waves of this pandemic.