(HealthDay News) — Loss of smell is prevalent among individuals with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies, according to a study published online in PLOS Medicine.

Janine Makaronidis, MBChB, from the University College London Centre for Obesity Research, and colleagues examined the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a population with acute loss of smell and/or taste. People with loss of smell and/or taste in the preceding month were invited to participate; 590 participants were enrolled and responded to questions about loss of smell and taste and other COVID-19-related symptoms.

The researchers found that 77.6% of participants with acute smell and/or taste loss had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2; 39.8% of these participants had neither cough nor fever. New loss of smell was more prevalent in those with versus without SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (93.4 vs 78.7%), whereas taste loss was equally prevalent (90.2 vs 89.0%). Compared with those with taste loss, those with smell loss were more likely to have seropositivity for SARS-CoV-2 (odds ratio, 2.86).

“Acute loss of sense of smell needs to be considered globally as a criterion for self-isolation, testing, and contact tracing in order to contain the spread of COVID-19,” the authors write.

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Makaronidis J, Mok J, Balogun N, et al. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in people with an acute loss in their sense of smell and/or taste in a community-based population in London, UK: An observational cohort study. PLOS Med.