COVID – 19 or the coronavirus has been deeply affecting the health of the world population, continually surprising us with new discoveries and symptoms. Although at first the primary manifestation of COVID 19 was pneumonia, further research has suggested that it can spread to other key organs other than the respiratory system. Latest research has found that this strain of influenza virus has neurotropic potential. Individuals affected with the virus have found to have neurological manifestations. Some of the severely affected patients have also shown central and peripheral nervous disorders, including stroke, ataxia, seizures, and depressed level of consciousness.
It has been suggested that the involvement of nervous system may be due to the direct action of these viruses on the nervous tissue or indirect action through the activation of immune mediated mechanisms. It has been found that the coronavirus can invade the nervous tissues involving the immune – functioning macrophages, microglia, or astrocytes and cause nervous damage through direct infection pathways.
According to one of the first neurological reports which was prepared during the COVID 19 outbreak in Wuhan it was found that 78 out of 214 patients i.e approximately 36.4% fell into 3 categories. Central nervous system (dizziness, headache, impaired consciousness, acute cerebrovascular disease, ataxia, and seizure), peripheral nervous system (taste impairment, smell impairment, vision impairment, and nerve pain), and muscular-skeletal. Stroke, ataxia, seizures, and depressed level of consciousness were most common in severely affected patients. A 31% incidence of thrombotic complications in ICU patients with COVID-19 infection has been documented in 184 ICU patients with proven COVID-19 pneumonia, of whom 23 died (13%).
COVID 19 is not the only virus which has been associated with neurological disorders, some of the other diseases include Zika Virus, H1N1, Ebolavirus, EV-A71 which all emerged as serious public health concerns. Analyzing the lessons learned from previous and current observations regarding the impact of pandemics on neurological manifestations emphasizes the need for strengthening health systems. Undoubtedly the People with neurological disorders might be at risk of incurring the most severe complications of the infectious disease, and, conversely, the infection itself might be a source of neurological complications. To curb the impact of future viral epidemics, or comparable diseases, researchers suggest governments to increase long-term investments in health system to strengthen collaboration between different international organizations, inject more funding for research, and discover new tools to detect, treat, and prevent future epidemics.