Effect of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Brain and Nervous System: Attention Needed

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Dr. Juni Banerjee, PhD, Neucrad Health Desk, July 30,2020

Till now, all we heard, read and understood is that the general symptoms of Covid-19 disease are cold, cough, fever and respiratory troubles affecting the lungs. However, some unrelated symptoms like loss of taste, smell and memory and their persistence even after initial diagnosis, suggested neurological roots from the beginning.

Interestingly, recent research report by Neurologists of UK confirmed the psychological aspects and neurological complications of novel coronavirus-infected people. This report has immensely increased the worries associated with Covid-19 diagnosis and its long-term health effects.

Our article here aims to comprehend about such signs, symptoms and conditions, so that we as a community can be more careful and efficient in detecting as well as diagnosing the Covid-19 patients.

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Effect of SARS-COV-2 virus on target’s Brain and Nervous system:

The significant novel findings of the recent research works revealed the following important points:       

  1. Some of the coronavirus-infected patients intriguingly demonstrated neurological problems as their first and/ main symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
  2. Surprisingly, even some of the mildly infected people and recovering Covid-19 patients were found to have serious or potentially fatal brain conditions.
  3. One of the long-term health effects of SARS-CoV-2 virus recently found were signs of fatigue, numbness, weakness and memory loss in some patients even after having had the virus cleared from the body system.
  4. The critical finding is the range of brain complications starting from inflammation of the Central Nervous System (CNS), psychosis (delusions and hallucinations), delirium (mental confusion and emotional disruption),  Ischemic stroke (happens due to sudden change in blood supply to the brain resulting in inability to move some parts of the body or deliver speech) and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM, an immune system mediated inflammatory condition that adversely affects the white matter of the brain and spinal cord) and Guillain-Barré syndrome (which is attack on body nerves following respiratory or gastrointestinal infection’s immune response).

The above significant findings is a collaborative research work involving 43 people (aged 16-85) during their treatment for Covid-19 symptoms at National Hospital, Queen Square Covid-19 multidisciplinary team meeting (COVID-MDT) in collaboration with University College London Hospital (UCLH) which has been published as a Scientific paper in the  Oxford University Press Journal- ‘Brain’. Remarkably, they made efforts for clinical presentations of the patients alongside with MRI and biopsy sample analysis.

Henceforth, it’s very important right now to consider and check the effect of SARS-CoV-2 virus on patient’s brain apart from only lungs. Hopefully early neuro-radiological diagnosis, long-term follow ups and implementation of post-Covid19 rehabilitation and/ mindfulness programs would be able to bring out effective and successful patient outcomes in future.

References:

  1. Paterson RW, Brown RL, Benjamin L, et al. The emerging spectrum of COVID-19 neurology: clinical, radiological and laboratory findings [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 8]. Brain. 2020;awaa240. doi:10.1093/brain/awaa240
  2. Rogers JP, Chesney E, Oliver D, et al. Psychiatric and neuropsychiatric presentations associated with severe coronavirus infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis with comparison to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Psychiatry. 2020;7(7):611-627. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30203-0
  3. Ellul MA, Benjamin L, Singh B, et al. Neurological associations of COVID-19 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 2]. Lancet Neurol. 2020;S1474-4422(20)30221-0. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30221-0
  4. Román GC, Spencer PS, Reis J, et al. The neurology of COVID-19 revisited: A proposal from the Environmental Neurology Specialty Group of the World Federation of Neurology to implement international neurological registries. J Neurol Sci. 2020;414:116884. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2020.116884
  5. Bostanciklioglu M. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is penetrating to dementia research [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 22]. Curr Neurovasc Res. 2020;10.2174/1567202617666200522220509. doi:10.2174/1567202617666200522220509
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