Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Can you catch COVID from a corpse? It’s possible, but experts say not to worry

COVIDExperts have had their hands full in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its contagious, and deadly nature. 

Of course, it did not take experts long to learn that the virus could be easily spread among living people. However, one question that remains is how long the virus can live in the body after a person has died. Experts have said it could live in the body for several days. 

According to Dr. Prakash Shrestha, an infections disease physician with Covenant Health said, “[i]f somebody were to go and touch, hug or kiss a dead corpse [of someone who died of the coronavirus], then yes, there is a chance that they might catch the virus from contact.”

However, Dr. Shrestha said there is no need to worry because the chance of this kind of infection happening is low. 

It is actually the "last responders" that are the most at risk for this type of infection. Examples of these last responders are forensic pathologists and funeral directors. 

Mike Box, an Associate Funeral Attendant for Krestridge Funeral Home in Levelland, TX, stated, “Those droplets [from those who’ve died of COVID-19] can still come out of their mouth and nose and form a vapor that you can be exposed to.”

Due to the danger of contracting the virus from corpses, funeral workers have had to take extra precautions when handling the dead bodies of those that have died from the virus. The danger is much more prevalent in open-casket funerals for virus patients, especially because family members may not know the potential risk. 

Dr. Shrestha said that the greatest risk at a funeral is actually the potential for the virus to spread among the living. So, there is not much to worry about in regard to contracting the virus from a corpse, but people coming in contact with the living—and the dead—should be extra cautious. 

See Can you catch COVID from a corpse? It’s possible, but experts say not to worry, Everything Lubbock, March 25, 2021.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2021/03/can-you-catch-covid-from-a-corpse-its-possible-but-experts-say-not-to-worry.html

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