Toilets May Pose Risk for Spreading COVID-19

I just don’t get the obsession with toilet paper and toilets. This article describes that COVID-19 can manifest with GI symptoms and that it can be transmitted via the fecal-oral route as do many GI diseases. It referenced that air samples were taken from toilets in COVID positive patient’s rooms, and there was a high concentration of the virus found. This is important as COVID-19 can be spread and live in the air for up to 3 hours, and be disseminated to hard surface areas where they can live up to 3 to 4 days. This is unfortunate for the idiot depicted in the picture (2) who tested positive for COVID-19 just days after posting a video of himself licking a toilet bowl for a nauseating online challenge.

That is quite concerning when you consider that flushing a toilet can create an aerosolized plume of these viral particles, which can then spread elsewhere within proximity (1).

            So moral of the story: don’t use public restrooms. But more seriously, being smart when housing patients or patients on different units where toilet are shared. The aerosolization effect that can occur in toilets, leading to microdroplets that can be inhaled or persist on surface areas, raises some real concerns regarding epidemiologic spread (1).

References:

  1. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/928234?nlid=135014_785&src=WNL_mdplsfeat_200414_mscpedit_nurs&uac=94625DT&spon=24&impID=2346899&faf=1
  2. https://nypost.com/2020/03/25/influencer-reportedly-hospitalized-with-coronavirus-after-licking-toilet/

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Robert Duprey MD

Robert is a 2nd career physician (MD); a combat Veteran with the US Army; a former psychiatric nurse practitioner; an independent researcher; a medical writer; and now having passed USMLE Steps 1, 2CK, 2CS, and 3, is a residency applicant. 

  5 comments for “Toilets May Pose Risk for Spreading COVID-19

  1. arf
    April 15, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Reminds me of my childhood.
    My mother making a cake.
    Pouring the batter.
    I would ask my mother if I could lick the bowl.
    She would say no, you flush it like everyone else.
    Memories……..

  2. ARF
    April 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    I wonder about the “stay-at-home” order. Does it really accomplish anything, besides destroying the economy of course.

    What I mean is, it’s “stay at home”, with loads of exceptions for “essential” activities, many of which were political decisions (marijuana shops).

    The roads in my area are still filled with traffic, just not jammed, which is today’s normal locally.

    Does the reduced activity reduce transmission enough to make a difference? As opposed to a Chinese-style shutdown, blockade and martial law, closing streets completely.

    • Pat
      April 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      I can’t prove that these idiotic stay-at-home orders have caused more damage than the virus, any more than anyone else can prove they actually helped.

      But they have conditioned people to surrender their freedom of thought and action just that much more, and have proven how “public health” can be used as a rationale for any use of force. Physicians should be the lead skeptics here, not politicians’ enablers.

      • arf
        April 16, 2020 at 10:54 am

        I can definitely say I am sick and tired of our pompous jerk governor saying his decisions are based on science, not politics.
        When he declared marijuana shops “essential” to remain open, he made a political decision.
        The science shows fewer collisions with lower traffic speed. So, make the speed limit ten miles an hour, no more traffic deaths.
        They make political decisions over science every day.

  3. Harrietta Christodoulos
    April 15, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I am shocked.

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