Brain damage linked to mild COVID-19 infections: study

Scientists are warning the coronavirus could cause brain damage. Experts at the University College London says Covid-19 could lead to neurological complications. These include strokes, nerve damage, and potentially fatal brain inflammation. And, it can happen even if patients don’t show severe respiratory symptoms. To discuss this we are joined by Adrian Puren from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases. Courtesy #DStv403

LONDON – Potentially fatal COVID-19 complications in the brain including delirium, nerve damage and stroke may be more common than initially thought, a team of British-based doctors warned.

Severe COVID-19 infections are known to put patients at risk of neurological complications, but research led by University College London suggests serious problems can occur even in individuals with mild cases of the virus.

The team looked at the neurological symptoms of 43 patients hospitalised with either confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

READ: What should you do if you think you have COVID-19?

They found 10 cases of temporary brain dysfunction, 12 cases of brain inflammation, eight strokes and eight cases of nerve damage.

Most of those patients with inflammation were diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) — a rare condition typically seen in children after viral infections.

“We identified a higher than expected number of people with neurological conditions such as brain inflammation, which did not always correlate with the severity of respiratory symptoms,” said Michael Zandi, of UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

READ: Study shows how quickly coronavirus spreads at home 

The research, published in the journal Brain, showed that none of the patients diagnosed with neurological problems had COVID-19 in their cerebrospinal fluid, suggesting that the virus did not directly attack their brains.

“Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause,” said Ross Paterson from UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology.

“Doctors need to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes.”

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