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Searches for bowel symptoms increased weeks before onset



(Newser)
– Searches for gastrointestinal symptoms, including loss of taste and diarrhea, appear to be linked to coronavirus outbreaks, according to research at a Massachusetts hospital. Researchers from the Massachusetts General say data from 15 states between January 20 and April 20 revealed that increases in cases followed increases in searches for symptoms in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, Bloomberg reports. The researchers, whose study is published in the journal Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology, say the local outbreaks came three to four weeks after the searches. The same approach helped track trends in pandemic flu a decade ago, the researchers say.

“Our data underscore the importance of gastrointestinal symptoms as a potential service for COVID-1

9 infections,” wrote study author Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist. He tells Yahoo that the study was inspired by the team’s similar research into irritable bowel syndrome. “The data really showed that Google Trends seemed to be able to predict increases in high-incidence areas in some ways,” he says. Staller says that while technology is not a foolproof way to predict outbreaks, “this could be an extra help for public health officials.” He says people who develop sudden gastroenterological symptoms should exercise caution. “It may be a manifestation of COVID-19, which we have learned is really a multisystem disease,” he says. (Read more coronavirus stories.)




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