The agency recommends strengthening sanitation and hygiene measures to prevent fecal-oral transmission in epidemic area. These include drinking boiled water, avoiding eating raw food, implementing separate meal systems, frequent hand-washing, disinfecting toilets, and preventing water and food contamination from patients’ stool.

“The virus can also be transmitted through the potential fecal-oral route,” the Chinese CDC said. “This means that stool samples may contaminate hands, food, water” and cause infection when the microbes enter the mouth or eyes, or are inhaled, they said.

Rectal swabs can detect the pneumonia-causing virus in patients even when conventional oral tests are negative, doctors at the Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital in central China said in a study.