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Loss of Smell Prevalent in Those With SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies

Presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies 2.86-fold more likely in those with loss of smell versus loss of taste

woman smelling flower

MONDAY, Oct. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Loss of smell is prevalent among individuals with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies, according to a study published online Oct. 1 in PLOS Medicine.

Janine Makaronidis, M.B.Ch.B., from the University College London Centre for Obesity Research, and colleagues examined the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a population with acute loss of smell and/or taste. People with loss of smell and/or taste in the preceding month were invited to participate; 590 participants were enrolled and responded to questions about loss of smell and taste and other COVID-19-related symptoms.

The researchers found that 77.6 percent of participants with acute smell and/or taste loss had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2; 39.8 percent of these participants had neither cough nor fever. New loss of smell was more prevalent in those with versus without SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (93.4 versus 78.7 percent), whereas taste loss was equally prevalent (90.2 versus 89.0 percent). Compared with those with taste loss, those with smell loss were more likely to have seropositivity for SARS-CoV-2 (odds ratio, 2.86).

"Acute loss of sense of smell needs to be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing, and contact tracing in order to contain the spread of COVID-19," the authors write.

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