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Neurological Manifestations of COVID-19: what we know thus far


Dear Researcher,

The list of clinical manifestations of COVID-19 is regularly updated as clinicians around the world publish clinical findings. It is respiratory symptoms that threaten patient survival, however an increasing number of publications report associated neurological indications. In this series of newsletters we aim to keep you updated with the latest evidence for COVID-19 effects on the nervous system.

One of the first papers to report on the topic was a paper published in Jama Neurology in April 2020, Mao et al., (2020).

The retrospective case study looked at 214 COVID-19 hospitalized patients in the Huazhong area in Wuhan, China. It reported that 36.4% of the patients showed some central neurological manifestations. These included headache, dizziness, impaired consciousness, ataxia (abnormal, uncoordinated movements) cerebrovascular disease, and epilepsy. Of these, dizziness and headache were the most commonly reported symptoms.

Peripheral nerve symptoms included hypogeusia (loss of taste), hyposmia (loss of smell), neuralgia, and some muscular symptoms with pain, myalgia, and elevated creatine kinase. The authors also noted that neurological symptoms were more common in patients with severe respiratory disease.

A parallel study conducted in Strasbourg, France (Helms et al., 2020), also reported approximately one third of hospitalised patients displayed neurological symptoms including headache, dizziness, agitation, delirium, ataxia and corticospinal tract signs. Table 1 lists the findings from this study.

To date, there is no clinical data on possible long-term complications of COVID-19 from these neurological manifestations. During the next few weeks we will look at what is known of neurological effects from previous Coronavirus outbreaks, the mechanisms of viral infection of the brain, and also keep you updated with new literature in this field.

Good luck with your research

The Biosensis Team