New-onset anosmia and ageusia in adult patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection

Link to article at PubMed

Patel A, et al. Clin Microbiol Infect 2020.


OBJECTIVES: We investigated the prevalence of anosmia and ageusia in adult patients with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of infection with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).

METHODS: This was a retrospective observational analysis of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 admitted to hospital or managed in the community and their household contacts across a London population during the period March 1st to April 1st, 2020. Symptomatology and duration were extracted from routinely collected clinical data and follow-up telephone consultations. Descriptive statistics were used.

RESULTS: Of 386 patients, 141 (92 community patients, 49 discharged inpatients) were included for analysis; 77/141 (55%) reported anosmia and ageusia, nine reported only ageusia and three only anosmia. The median onset of anosmia in relation to onset of SARS-CoV-2 disease (COVID-19) symptoms (as defined by the Public Health England case definition) was 4 days (interquartile range (IQR) 5). Median duration of anosmia was 8 days (IQR 16). Median duration of COVID-19 symptoms in community patients was 10 days (IQR 8) versus 18 days (IQR 13.5) in admitted patients. As of April 1, 45 patients had ongoing COVID-19 symptoms and/or anosmia; 107/141 (76%) patients had household contacts, and of 185 non-tested household contacts 79 (43%) had COVID-19 symptoms with 46/79 (58%) reporting anosmia. Six household contacts had anosmia only.

CONCLUSIONS: Over half of the positive patients reported anosmia and ageusia, suggesting that these should be added to the case definition and used to guide self-isolation protocols. This adaptation may be integral to case findings in the absence of population-level testing. Until we have successful population-level vaccination coverage, these steps remain critical in the current and future waves of this pandemic.

PMID:32502645 | PMC:PMC7265826 | DOI:10.1016/j.cmi.2020.05.026

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