Ocular manifestations and viral shedding in tears of pediatric patients with coronavirus disease 2019: a preliminary report.J AAPOS. 2020 Jun 09 [Online ahead of print]JA
To evaluate ocular manifestations and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) prevalence in the tears of children with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A total of 27 pediatric patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection hospitalized from March 16 to April 15, 2020, at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital were enrolled in the study. At admission, all patients showed ocular manifestations. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction from nasopharyngeal and conjunctival swabs were performed every 2-3 days before discharge.
Of the 27 patients, 4 (15%) were asymptomatic, 15 (56%) showed respiratory symptoms, and 8 (30%) had gastrointestinal symptoms. At admission, nasopharyngeal swabs were positive for COVID-19 in all patients; on the second swabs, 7 children (26%) tested negative, and 20 remained positive for COVID-19. Ocular manifestations consistent with mild viral conjunctivitis were observed in 4 patients (15%). At first conjunctival swab, 3 patients (11%), 1 symptomatic and 2 asymptomatic for ocular infection, had positive findings for COVID-19; 2 became negative on the second test and 1 on the third.
In our study cohort, ocular manifestations of COVID-19 seem to have had a milder clinical course in pediatric patients than in adults. Despite the low prevalence and rapid regression of viral presence in the conjunctiva, SARS-CoV-2 transmission through tears may be possible, even in patients without apparent ocular involvement.