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Coronavirus Update-Neurological Sequela

Posted by Margaret Donohue on May 17, 2020 at 2:25 AM

The coronavirus COVID-19 is showing a propensity towards neurological symptoms.  This is similar to other coronaviruses that infect people.  There are 7 corona viruses that infect people. 

  • 229E
  • NL63
  • OC43
  • HKU1
  • MERS-CoV
  • SARS-CoV
  • SARS-CoV-2
Coronaviruses infect pigs, cattle, horses, camels, cats, dogs, rodents, birds, bats, rabbits, ferrets, mink, and other animals.  Coronaviruses are linked to the common cold causing 2-10% of cold symptoms secondary only to rhinoviruses.  Neurological manifestations are noted in MERS and SARS variants and are now seen in COVID-19.

In humans, people with COVID-19 develop neurological symptoms by inhaling the virus directly through their nose.  The virus exploits angiotencin receptor cells (ACE-2) travels up the nasal canal to the olfactory bulb, to the olfactory epithelium and to the temporal lobes in the cortex, the brainstem, and cerebral spinal fluid.  In some cases of COVID-19 there are endothelial ruptures in the brain causing bleeding into the cortex.  Widespread infection can impact the heart, lungs, kidneys, and circulatory systems due to dysregulation of homeostasis.  Brain involvement with swelling, problems with bleeding or clotting can be fatal.

Neurological symptoms include problems with smell, taste, memory, headaches, weakness, fatigue, increased fever, stroke, hemmorhage, Guillan Barre Syndrome, inflammatory skin reactions (Kawasaki-Like Syndrome), hallucinations, vivid dreams, seizures, and encephalopathies.

Long term-sequela following survival of the initial infection are theoretically possible.  These include Parkinson like symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis likje symptoms, and progressive neurological problems.  Psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, delirium, dementia, and psychotic like symptoms are also possible.

With 30 current mutations of COVID-19 as of April 2020, it is unlikely that the virus will "disappear" on it's own.  It is far more likely that humans will eventually adapt to the virus, and that it will mutate to a less lethal form.

Categories: Health Psychology, Diagnosis