The spread of COVID-19 has been remarkable, turning the underlying virus into a global pandemic seemingly overnight. Researchers are actively working to better understand the methods of transmission and continuously revise the researched information available regarding the virus.
While certain types of transmission are obvious and relatively standard in revise to contagious pathogens, there is still mystery surrounding the spread of the virus and how it can more effectively be prevented.
This drive to discover all of the means of transmission and subsequent prevention has led to several interesting theories and discoveries, arguably none quite as unusual as the spread of COVID-19 through fecal aerosol transmission. This theory was recently put to the test via a study performed in a single high-rise building in Guangzhou, China.
Researchers theorized that fecal aerosols could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19. To test this theory, they decided to investigate the transmission of the virus within a high-rise apartment, effectively evaluating the special and temporal distributions of three families that had contracted the virus and how their illness spread throughout the building.
As such, the participants in the study were the three infected families (nine individuals), the other residents of the apartment (193), and the management staff (24).
Once the infected participants were identified, the locations of their apartments within the building were noted, and the spread of the virus through the building was observed. The goal was to determine whether or not a vertical spread of aerosols through the various stacks and vents of the building would lead to infections within the building.
The first observation to note was that no evidence of COVID-19 spread via elevator or elsewhere was found. This effectively eliminates the possibility of physical transmission between residents.
Where evidence of transmission was found, however, was through the vertical stacks and vents present in the building. In other words, it is highly likely that the community outbreak that occurred in the high-rise apartment building was a result of fecal aerosol transmission.
There is a possibility that water seals in the apartments of the infected families were dried out or otherwise compromised. If this was the case, it could have contributed to the spread of the virus and raise questions in regard to the accuracy of the study.
As it stands, however, this study provides strong circumstantial evidence that COVID-19 was spread through fecal aerosol transmission and may have directly contributed to the observed community outbreak. This means that the virus can be transmitted in yet another manner, providing insight into the spread of COVID-19 and leading to more questions of how the spread can be mitigated.