Viral infections can have a strong impact on the human brain. This happens even if the virus in question does not directly attack the central nervous system. Inflammation of the brain, also known as encephalitis, can result from an infection with a virus. Most of the time, these sort of infections lead to very mild, almost flu-like symptoms. When they end up affecting the brain, however, the issues can be drastic.
Almost contemporarily with the 1918 flu pandemic, there existed an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica, also known as sleeping sickness. Millions of people are thought to have developed this problem in the decade between 1917 and 1927. Most of the survivors exhibited symptoms such as extreme lethargy and behavioral changes, even lived in catatonic states.
Viral Brain Damage
Some scientists have noticed a link between infections with the virus MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. These are the coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS to manifest. Both of these viruses signal a certain amount of damage within the central nervous system itself. Currently, the scientific community has been rocked by the fact that the novel coronavirus has been associated with some symptoms related to the nervous system. On the other hand, the way we understand the way that COVID-19 impacts the brain is still in its early stages.
A report published recently, which was authored by scientists affiliated with the Institute of Neurology at University College London, mentions that there are cases of stroke, delirium, nerve damage and brain inflammation associated with COVID-19.
In the report, which was published in Brain, an academic journal dealing with problems of the nervous system, a template is provided that can help scientists all over the globe to give a better diagnosis, and, most importantly, to find an adequate treatment should they encounter any neurological complications when dealing with COVID-19.