Coronavirus can cause damage to patients’ nervous system

RNS: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause damage to the patients’ central nervous system. Previous studies show that COVID-19 may attack multiple organs, including kidneys, livers and heart, but there are no records about the central nervous system damage, Chinese media reported.

According to the report, Chinese doctors have proved for the first time that the novel Coronavirus can cause damage to patients’ central nervous system.

The New York Times also reported that, “Neurologists around the world say that a small subset of patients with COVID-19 is developing serious impairments of the brain.”

“Although fever, cough and difficulty breathing are the typical hallmarks of infection with the new Coronavirus, some patients exhibit altered mental status, or encephalopathy, a catchall term for brain disease or dysfunction that can have many underlying causes, as well as other serious conditions. These neurological syndromes join other unusual symptoms, such as diminished sense of smell and taste as well as heart ailments,” it said in the report.

Doctors from Beijing Ditan Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University, a designated institution treating the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), recently announced that they have cured a male patient whose cerebrospinal fluid had the virus, reported Xinhuanet.

A patient, 56, was diagnosed with the COVID-19 on 24 Januaryat the hospital. He had severe symptoms and failed to respond to regular treatment, according to a hospital statement, it reported.

“In the intensive care unit (ICU), the patient developed symptoms associated with decreased consciousness, though there were no abnormal signs on his head CT images. The medical staff then conducted gene sequencing on samples of his cerebrospinal fluid and confirmed the presence of the Novel Coronavirus, diagnosing the COVID-19 patient with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

After the treatment of viral encephalitis, the patient’s neurological symptoms gradually disappeared.

He was transferred to the infectious ward on Feb. 18 and was discharged from the hospital on 25 February,” stated in the report.

Liu Jingyuan, ICU director of the hospital and attending doctor of the patient, said that once a COVID-19 patient is found to have disorders of consciousness, medical staff should consider the possibility of nervous system infections and carry out cerebrospinal fluid tests in time, to avoid delayed diagnosis and further reduce the mortality rate of critically ill patients.

Researchers have previously found that the SARS virus and the MERS virus can also invade patients’ nervous systems.

Later, the hospital has offered medical treatment to 150 COVID-19 infected patients and found one case with brain inflammation.

China’s National Health Commission recently unveiled the latest version of the national diagnosis and treatment plan for COVID-19, which mentioned that the disease could cause congestion, edema and neuronal degeneration in brain tissues.

In early March, a 74-year-old man came to the emergency room in Boca Raton, Fla., with a cough and a fever, but an X-ray ruled out pneumonia and he was sent home. The next day, when his fever spiked, family members brought him back. He was short of breath, and could not tell doctors his name or explain what was wrong — he had lost the ability to speak, reported The New York Times on 1 April.

The report also stated that the patient, who had chronic lung disease and Parkinson’s, was flailing his arms and legs in jerky movements, and appeared to be having a seizure. Doctors suspected he had COVID-19 and were eventually proven right when he was finally tested.

On Tuesday, doctors in Detroit reported another disturbing case involving a female airline worker in her late 50s with Covid-19. She was confused, and complained of a headache; she could tell the physicians her name but little else and became less responsive over time. Brain scans showed abnormal swelling and inflammation in several regions, with smaller areas where some cells had died.

Physicians diagnosed a dangerous condition called acute necrotizing encephalopathy, a rare complication of influenza and other viral infections.

“The pattern of involvement, and the way that it rapidly progressed over days, is consistent with viral inflammation of the brain,” Dr. Elissa Fory, a neurologist with Henry Ford Health System, said through an email.

“This may indicate the virus can invade the brain directly in rare circumstances.” The patient is in critical condition.

These domestic reports follow similar observations by doctors in Italy and other parts of the world, of COVID-19 patients having strokes, seizures, encephalitis-like symptoms and blood clots, as well as tingling or numbness in the extremities, called acroparesthesia. In some cases, patients were delirious even before developing a fever or respiratory illness, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, whose hospital at the University of Brescia in Italy opened a separate NeuroCovid unit to care for patients with neurological conditions.

The patients who come in with encephalopathy are confused and lethargic and may appear dazed, exhibiting strange behavior or staring off into space. They may be having seizures that require immediate medical care, and experts are warning health care providers who treat such patients to recognize that they may have COVID-19 and to take precautions to protect themselves from infection, stated in the report.

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