BREAKING! COVID-19 News: John Hopkins Researchers Discover That SARS-Cov-2 Can Harbor In Middle Ear And Mastoid Region Of The Head
: Researchers from John Hopkins Medical School including a team of otolaryngologists and pathologists has confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can colonize the middle ear and mastoid region of the head behind the ear.
The medical report was published in the journal: JAMA Otolaryngology
. (a journal of the American Medical Association.)
From the clinical findings, the team recommends that doctors, surgeons, nurses and other health care professionals especially otolaryngologists should practice recommended protective procedures against SARS-CoV-2 when dealing with examination, sample collecting, treatment and surgery of these two connected areas.
Dr C. Matthew Stewart, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and head & neck surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-author of the report told Thailand Medical news, "Previously, medical personnel in the otolaryngology world only had a theoretical risk on which to base a decision whether or not to follow guidelines against SARS-CoV-2. Now that we have proven the virus can survive in the middle ear and mastoid, professionals in our community know the threat is real and can guard against it with appropriate procedures and protective equipment."
The Ear’s mastoid bone, located in the temporal region of the skull, contains a number of hollowed spaces known as mastoid air cells. These are believed to cushion the area against trauma, protect the delicate structures of the middle and inner ear, and regulate ear pressure. In humans, the middle ear contains the three tiny bones called the ossicles, more commonly known individually as the anvil, hammer and stirrup that direct sound waves from the outside into the inner ear for processing.
The Johns Hopkins researchers autopsied three patients who had tested positively for SARS-CoV-2 and were symptomatic for COVID-19 prior to death. Dr Stewart says that using powered instruments during the autopsies would have posed a dangerous risk for creating infectious droplets and aerosols, so the team relied on hand tools and techniques from the early 1900s to take bone and mucosal specimens from the left and right mastoids, as well as swabs of the left and right middle ears. These samples were analyzed to see if the novel coronavirus could be isolated from them.
It was found that one patient was negative for virus in both mastoids and both middle ears.
However, SARS-CoV-2 was isolated from the targeted regions of the other two people the first in the right middle ear only and the second in all four sampled sites.
The study team believes that, despite the variation in virus recovery seen in the three patients (possibly related, they say, to different time intervals between death and autopsy), the conclusive finding of virus in the middle ear and mastoid warrants more caution and protective measures by health care professionals working in these two areas, especially during ear surgery.
This also has implications of where else it could next spread t
o and its actions of the tissues and organs or regions and its resulting damages and health effects.
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