“Autopsy studies have revealed a range of recurrent neuropathological features in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”
by Katarina Zimmer
“When epidemics and pandemics washed over humanity through the ages, watchful doctors noticed that in addition to the usual, mostly respiratory ailments, the illnesses also seemed to trigger neurological symptoms. One British throat specialist observed in the late 1800s that influenza appeared to ‘run up and down the nervous keyboard stirring up disorder and pain in different parts of the body with what almost seems malicious caprice.’ Indeed, some patients during the 1889–92 influenza pandemic reportedly became afflicted with psychoses, paranoia, stabbing pains, and nerve damage. Similarly, scholars have linked the 1918 flu pandemic to parkinsonism, neuropsychiatric disorders, and a broadly coinciding outbreak of the “sleeping sickness” encephalitis lethargica, which would often arrest patients in a coma-like state—although researchers still debate whether the two are causally connected.
“That SARS-CoV-2, the culprit of the COVID-19 pandemic, is also associated with neurological symptoms isn’t entirely surprising, given some evidence that its close relatives, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1, have been associated with neurological symptoms too. But the proportion of patients …
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