Scientists working on the Covid-19 diesease, the newly discovered coronavirus have found that the infection causes more damage to the brain than lungs.
Researchers found that the infection in the nasal passage of mice with the virus escalates an attack on the brain, even after the lungs were successfully clearing themselves of the virus.
The findings have a ripple effect on the understanding of the wide range of symptoms and severity of illness among humans who are infected by SARS-CoV-2.
“Our thinking that it’s more of respiratory disease is not necessarily true. Once it infects the brain it can affect anything because the brain is controlling your lungs, the heart, everything.
The brain is a very sensitive organ. It’s the central processor for everything,” said lead researcher Mukesh Kumar, Assistant Professor, Georgia State University in the US.
The study, published by the journal Viruses, assessed virus levels in multiple organs of the infected mice. A control group of mice received a dose of sterile saline solution in their nasal passages.
His team found that virus levels in the lungs of infected mice peaked three days after infection, then began to decline.
However, very high levels of infectious virus were found in the brains of all the affected mice on the fifth and sixth days, which is when symptoms of severe disease became obvious, including laboured breathing, disorientation and weakness.
The study found virus levels in the brain were about 1,000 times higher than in other parts of the body.
The researcher said the findings could help explain why some Covid-19 patients seem to be on the road to recovery, with improved lung function, only to rapidly relapse and die.