Duration of Respiratory and Gastrointestinal Viral Shedding in Children With SARS-CoV-2: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Data.Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2020 09; 39(9):e249-e256.PI
Children with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are more likely to have mild or no symptoms compared with adults and may represent important vectors for transmitting the virus. Little is known about the duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal viral shedding in children with COVID-19.
To determine the average shedding times of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) via the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts in children.
We performed a systematic search of Ovid MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane CENTRAL databases for studies reporting real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR) results in children with COVID-19, then extracted and synthesized data on duration of viral shedding from symptom onset in respiratory and gastrointestinal samples.
Based on data compiled from 69 pediatric cases, the duration of viral shedding through the respiratory tract is up to 24 days from symptom onset with a mean of 11.1 ± 5.8 days. Of the children who underwent testing with stool PCR, rectal swab or anal swab, 86% returned a positive result. The mean duration of viral shedding via the gastrointestinal tract was 23.6 ± 8.8 days from symptom onset. In 89% of cases, viral shedding via the gastrointestinal tract persisted after nasopharyngeal or throat swabs became negative, for as long as 4 weeks.
To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to systematically review the duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal viral shedding of SARS-CoV-2 in pediatric patients. These findings may have important implications for infection control strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.