Early analyses of Covid-19 patients in January told of the foremost common symptoms: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. More diagnosed cases and research revealed less common symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea, indicating that in some people, the coronavirus was disrupting the gastrointestinal system , not just the tract .
By late February, we learned of mysterious cases involving no symptoms in the least — silent super-spreaders of a deadly disease who didn’t even know that they had it and felt nothing. Then, last month, things got stranger, as reports emerged of diagnosed Covid-19 cases in people that had lost their sense of smell yet showed few or no other symptoms of the disease. physicians also reported that some might even experience mild cold- or flu-like symptoms.
And yet it’s still getting stranger. The Covid-19, appears to be attacking people’s brains.
It’s not yet clear how SARS-CoV-2 could be affecting the brain, but experience with other viruses, including the flu, suggests it certainly could make its way there.
Evidence thus far , however, involves only anecdotes from physicians telling of Covid-19 patients initially experiencing confusion, headaches, and other symptoms which will be caused by inflammation of the brain, along side early studies involving small numbers of patients — sometimes only one .
While, it’s still not clear that the coronavirus attacks the brain directly or not.
“It is extremely difficult to separate the 2 ,” says Chethan Rao, MD, a practicing physician and professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Baylor College of drugs center .
Rao suspects both factors are at work. And things can deteriorate quickly. He has seen otherwise healthy Covid-19 patients go from talking normally while receiving alittle amount of oxygen to being placed on first a ventilator then a more serious heart-lung network , beat the space of 4 hours.
Multiple cases reported
The possibility that Covid-19 is invading the brain directly emerged back in February during a study out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the initial outbreak.
Recently, a lady in her late fifties who had experienced three days of cough, fever, and “altered mental status” was tested for flu, which she didn’t have. seems she had Covid-19. Brain scans showed unusual swelling, and physicians diagnosed it as acute necrotizing hemorrhagic encephalopathy, which is “a rare central systema nervosum complication secondary to influenza or other viral infections which is characterized by altered mental status and seizures, and sometimes this further results in profound disability or death.”
Other tests were done on the lady to eliminate another viruses which may cause the diagnosed condition. (Influenza is understood to cause, in some cases, encephalitis and its neurological consequences, like strokes and seizures, Rao says.)
“This is that the first reported case of Covid-19-associated acute necrotizing hemorrhagic encephalopathy,” the physicians, from the Ford Health System in Detroit, concluded on March 31 within the journal Radiology. “As the amount of patients with Covid-19 increases worldwide, clinicians and radiologists should be expecting this presentation among patients presenting with Covid-19 and altered mental status.”
In another case, a 74-year-old man with preexisting neurological conditions had suddenly lost his ability to talk . He was ultimately diagnosed with Covid-19. “Since Covid-19 affects the elderly more and people with preexisting conditions, patients with prior neurological conditions and acute respiratory symptoms are at an increased risk of encephalopathy on initial presentation,” his physicians wrote.
Getting into the brain
It’s not yet clear how SARS-CoV-2 could be affecting the brain, but experience with other viruses, including the flu, suggests it certainly could make its way there, Rao et al. say.
SARS-CoV-2 is quite sneaky, a replacement study within the journal Nature suggests. The virus enters human cells through a particular sort of cell receptor. It appears to often hold initially within the upper systema respiratorium , mainly within the throat, without typically causing many symptoms there.
In some cases it is destined that the virus becomes more severe, and migrates into the lungs or the stomach.
The cells with the proper receptors for SARS-CoV-2 are found extensively within the lungs, Rao tells Elemental, explaining why breathing problems are common in severe Covid-19 cases. But those receptors also are found in blood vessels within the barrier and in nerve endings, he explains.
“It is certainly possible that the systema nervosum is being invaded through these means,” Rao says.
Until more definitive research are often done, Covid-19’s mysterious ways are an ever-moving target, says Peter Gulick, DO, an oncologist and communicable disease specialist at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. And he’s not able to accept the case studies as proof of what could be happening.
“Acute encephalitis isn’t a known presentation of Covid-19, albeit it’s presented with other coronaviruses,” Gulick says by email. “But we’ll need to still follow cases to ascertain if any neurological conditions do occur as a results of Covid-19.”