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FMT Safety Alert in Light of SARS-CoV-2

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety alert for fecal microbiota transplants in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In it, the agency notes there is evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the ongoing pandemic, can be found in the stool of infected individuals. For instance, researchers from China report in an article accepted at the journal Gastroenterology that viral RNA could be detected within the stool of about half the patients tested and other researchers similarly report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that about 30 percent of patients tested had viral RNA in their stool, while another team found viral RNA within the stool of an asymptomatic child, as they note at Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Because of this, the FDA says there is a chance that the virus could be transmitted via stool, though it notes that the risk of such transmission is unknown. It advises any stool donated for the procedure after the beginning of December be subject to additional screening. In particular, it says that donors should be asked questions to uncover any potential COVID-19 exposure and that they or their samples should be tested for SARS-CoV-2, if possible. The agency also says that informed consent forms should be changed to include information about potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission through fecal microbiota transplants.