This version is not peer-reviewed
Role of the Eye in Transmitting Human Coronavirus: What We Know and What We Do Not Know
: Received: 16 March 2020 / Approved: 17 March 2020 / Online: 17 March 2020 (09:00:38 CET)
: Received: 23 March 2020 / Approved: 24 March 2020 / Online: 24 March 2020 (06:42:35 CET)
A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.
Journal reference: Front. Public Health 2020
The outbreak of recently identified 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) infection has become a world-wide health threat. Currently, more information is needed for further understanding the transmission, clinical characteristics, and infection control of 2019-nCOV. Recently, the role of the eye in transmitting 2019-nCOV has been intensively discussed. Previous investigations about other high infectious human COVs, that is, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), may provide helpful information. In this review, we describe the genomics and morphology of human CoVs, the epidemiology, systemic and ophthalmic manifestations, mechanisms of human CoVs infection, and infection control procedures. The role of the eye in the transmission of SARS-CoV and 2019-nCOV is discussed. Although the conjunctiva is directly exposed to extraocular pathogens, and the mucosa of ocular surface and upper respiratory tract is connected by nasolacrimal duct and share same receptors for some respiratory viruses. The eye is rarely involved by human CoVs infection, conjunctivitis is quite rare in patients with SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV infection, and COV RNA positive rate in tears and conjunctival scrapings tested by RT-PCR from patients with SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV infection is also very low, which imply that the eye is neither a preferred organ of human COVs infection, nor is a preferred gateway of entry for human COVs to infect respiratory tract. However, considering close doctor-patient contact is quite common in ophthalmic practice which are apt to transmit human COVs by droplets and fomites, hand hygiene and personal protection are still highly recommended for health care workers to avoid hospital-related viral transmission during ophthalmic practice.
Coronavirus; 2019-nCOV; transmission; infection; conjunctiva; eye
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