We have experienced and learned much about the SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID-19 in the past 12 months. For audiologists (and staff), use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is now standard practice. For audiologists performing cerumen removal procedures, extra precautions will still need to be taken.
There are several unknowns that, hopefully, should have answers soon. For audiologists, several concerns during and after cerumen removal include the following:
- Does cerumen have a risk for transmission of any virus?
- Specifically, does cerumen have a risk for transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus or COVID-19?
- Can we assume that cerumen cannot transmit COVID-19? NOTE: Cerumen has already been evaluated for the transmission of two major viruses—the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (Hanege et al, 2015) and the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) (Bayianadir et al, 2005). Both studies showed no evidence of transmission through cerumen by either virus.
- If COVID-19 can be transmitted in cerumen, what new precautions, if any, will need to be taken for both removal and disposal?
- Given the heightened interest and concern about the COVID-19 pandemic, are audiologists doing all they can do to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus in their work setting when removing cerumen from a patient who has already tested positive for the virus?
- What procedures are audiologists following with disposing of the cerumen once it has been removed from a patient who has a positive history of COVID-19?
This article will attempt to answer these questions and provide guidance for continued safety after removing cerumen removed from a patient who has a positive history of COVID-19.
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