Scientists are warning that a small subset of patients with Coronavirus are developing serious impairments of the brain.
Along with some other unusual symptoms, such as a loss or diminsished sense of taste and smell and heart ailments, some patients may exhibit neurological symtoms that can lead to an altered mental status.
Researchers made the connection between coronavirus and brain issues while treating a 58-year-old woman in Detroit, US, who tested positive for Covid-19.
The Mirror reports: Researchers from the Henry Ford Health System have reported an unusual case of brain inflammation linked to COVID-19.
A 58-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 developed a case of acute necrotising encephalitis (ANE) – a central nervous infection.
Dr Elissa Fory, who was part of the research team, said: “This is significant for all providers to be aware of and looking out for in patients who present with an altered level of consciousness.
“We need to be thinking of how we’re going to incorporate patients with severe neurological disease into our treatment paradigm. This complication is as devastating as severe lung disease.”
ANE is a rare, severe and rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain, and usually develops shortly after a viral infection.
It’s previously been linked to infections like influenza, chickenpox and enterovirus, and now it seems the condition could also be associated with COVID-19.
Aside from her coronavirus symptoms of fever and cough, the woman, who is unnamed, also presented with confusion, fatigue and disorientation.
An MRI scan identified abnormal lesions in her brain, confirming doctors’ suspicions that she had ANE.
While this is believed to be the first case of ANE linked to COVID-19, the researchers have urged doctors to be aware of a possible link.
In their study, published in Radiology, the researchers said: “As the number of patients with COVID-19 increases worldwide, clinicians and radiologists should be watching for this presentation among patients presenting with COVID-19 and altered mental status.”