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Research Letter
July 23, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 Virus Isolated From the Mastoid and Middle Ear: Implications for COVID-19 Precautions During Ear Surgery

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online July 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.1922

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus and associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease pandemic have rapidly spread around the world since December 2019. The high rate of droplet spread can endanger health care workers during procedures of the aerodigestive tract,1 particularly affecting otolaryngologists. Although there are no human data relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the middle ear, the recommendations to mitigate these risks include precautions for middle ear and mastoid surgery1,2 because middle ear effusions have been shown to contain some non–SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses.3 We present confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 colonization of the middle ear and mastoid in 2 of 3 patients.