Updated: Jan 30, 2021
ATLANTA — A new study shows coronavirus may actually hide in the brain, where it could reactivate down the road.
While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, researchers at Georgia State University have studied why symptoms widely vary with those infected with the virus. Lead researcher Dr. Mukesh Kumar, an associate professor in the Department of Biology, said they’ve learned through studying mice for months, COVID-19 may clear the lungs, but not necessarily the body.
“(The) brain is one of the organs where viruses like to hide. We know that because there is no immune response. So viruses like to go to a place and hide where they can be safe,” said Kumar.
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The virus can hide in the brain, remain dormant there and even show itself again.
“It’s hard for a virus to hide in your lungs. It’s much easier for the virus to hide in your central nervous system,” said Kumar.
Signs of this are evident with loss of taste and smell common in people infected with COVID-19. That is an attack on the central nervous system through the brain.
The GSU team monitored the diverse symptoms in the mice and noted brain infection mostly caused their death, not lung infection. They believe this can also be true in certain human cases.
Kumar mentioned a large percentage of people who recover do have some sort of brain dysfunction. Researchers agree our organs are well equipped to fight the infection, but once it reaches the brain, Dr. Kumar stated, “even if you test negative, that does not necessarily mean that you have completely cleared the virus.”
When the virus reaches the brain it can cause low level inflammation and even make people more susceptible to brain diseases like auto-immune disease and Parkinson’s. Kumar emphasized how crucial it is to wear a mask and cover your nose to protect from having the virus enter there and go directly into your brain. GSU researchers say there is plenty of work ahead of them since there’s still a lot to learn about coronavirus.
Credit: Wendy Corona, WSB-TV