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Journal Articles Neuroepidemiology Year : 2021

Characteristics Associated with Olfactory and Taste Disorders in COVID-19

Timothée Bruel
Isabelle Staropoli


Introduction: Olfactory and taste disorders (OTDs) have been reported in COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the mechanisms of which remain unclear. We conducted a detailed analysis of OTDs as part of 2 seroepidemiological investigations of COVID-19 outbreaks. Methods: Two retrospective cohort studies were conducted in a high school and primary schools of Northern France following a COVID-19 epidemic in February-March 2020. Students, their relatives, and school staff were included. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were identified using a flow-cytometry-based assay detecting anti-S IgG. Results: Among 2,004 participants (median [IQR] age: 31 [11–43] years), 303 (15.2%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. OTDs were present in 91 (30.0%) and 92 (30.3%) of them, respectively, and had 85.1 and 78.0% positive predictive values for SARS-CoV-2 infection, respectively. In seropositive participants, OTDs were independently associated with an age above 18 years, female gender, fatigue, and headache. Conclusion: This study confirms the higher frequency of OTDs in females than males and adults than children. Their high predictive value for the diagnosis of COVID-19 suggests that they should be systematically searched for in patients with respiratory symptoms, fever, or headache. The association of OTDs with headache, not previously reported, suggests that they share a common mechanism, which deserves further investigation.

Dates and versions

hal-03528578 , version 1 (17-01-2022)





Simon Galmiche, Timothée Bruel, Yoann Madec, Laura Tondeur, Ludivine Grzelak, et al.. Characteristics Associated with Olfactory and Taste Disorders in COVID-19. Neuroepidemiology, 2021, 55 (5), pp.381-386. ⟨10.1159/000517066⟩. ⟨hal-03528578⟩
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