Loss of senses of smell, taste could identify COVID-19 carriers

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Professor of food science and human nutrition M. Yanina Pepino is a member of the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research. The group, which includes...
experts from 38 countries, is gathering data on the loss of smell and taste perception among people with respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 to determine whether impairment of these senses can predict people who may be carriers.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A significant number of patients who test positive for COVID-19 report a sudden loss of their senses of smell or taste, even when they don't experience the more common symptoms such as a fever, a dry cough or shortness of breath that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise people to look for.

A global team of more than 500 researchers, including many experts in smell and taste perception, is investigating the abrupt loss of smell and taste – called anosmia and hypogeusia, respectively – in association with COVID-19 and whether these symptoms could help predict patients who may have the disease and could be at risk of being contagious.

"We want to understand whether the loss of smell by itself could be used as a red flag that people should be tested for COVID-19 or should isolate themselves for a couple of weeks to avoid spreading the disease," said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign food science and human nutrition professor M. Yanina Pepino.

Pepino is a member of the team, called the Global Consortium for Chemo-sensory Research, which includes experts from 38…
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