No findings of SARS-CoV-2 in conjunctival swabs from patients at an emergency outpatient ophthalmological healthcare facility in a Swedish county hospital: a cross-sectional study.

Granstam E, Krifors A, Freyhult E, Ã…kerblom H

BMJ Open Ophthalmol 6 (1) e000616 [2021-03-05; online 2021-03-05]

COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2. Virus has been found in conjunctiva of hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Conjunctivitis has also been reported as a presenting symptom of disease. The aims of the study were to investigate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the conjunctiva and throat among patients presenting at the emergency outpatient ophthalmological healthcare facility at a county hospital along with investigating the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among staff at the department. Swabs from conjunctiva and throat of patients were analysed with real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2. Blood samples for serological analysis were obtained from staff. A questionnaire was used to investigate symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the last 3 months as well as symptoms for which the patients were seeking ophthalmological healthcare. In total, 68 patients and 70 individuals from the staff were included in the study. Conjunctivitis was observed in 7% of patients. One patient, presenting with reduced visual acuity due to preretinal haemorrhage in the macula, was positive for SARS-CoV-2 in throat swab. Contact tracing was negative. All other RT-PCR tests were negative. Seropositivity for SARS-CoV-2 was found in 4% of staff. Our study demonstrated low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among patients as well as low seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG-antibodies among staff at the ophthalmological ward. The risk for contracting COVID-19 at the department was small. Follow-up investigation is planned.

Category: Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 34041362

DOI 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000616

Crossref 10.1136/bmjophth-2020-000616

pii: bmjophth-2020-000616
pmc: PMC7938470

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