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Diagnostics (Basel) ; 11(3)2021 Mar 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1160481


To date, there is poor evidence on the transmission of infection in individuals handling the bodies of deceased persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 and in particular, during autopsies. The aim of this study was to demonstrate that when appropriate strategies are adopted autopsy is a safe procedure with a minimal infection risk for all subjects involved (pathologists, technical personnel, and others) when proper strategies are adopted. We performed 16 autopsies on cadavers of persons who had died with confirmed COVID-19 with different post-mortem intervals (PMI). To confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA, for each autopsy, 2 swabs were sampled from lungs, while to evaluate environmental contamination, 11 swabs were taken at three different times: T0 (before autopsy), T1 (at the end of the autopsy, without removing the corpse), and T2 (after cleaning and disinfecting the autopsy room). Specifically, 2 swabs were sampled on face shields used by each pathologist, and 4 swabs were collected on the autopsy table; 4 swabs were also collected from walls and 1 from floor. Lung swabs confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in all cases. Environmental swabs, collected at T0 and T2 were all negative, while swabs sampled at T1 were shown to be positive. Interestingly, no association was shown between PMI length and environmental contamination. Infection control strategies for safe management of clinical forensic autopsies of bodies with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are also described.