Sources close to Hailey said the mystery illness was “affecting the way she moved — symptoms that are generally more typical for a much older patient.” Doctors who are treating her also believe the condition could be related to COVID-19.
Now, we are learning more about COVID and the brain.
Researchers recently zeroed in on how damage occurs to the brain, causing what’s been called “brain fog” and other neurological symptoms.
Early in the pandemic, researchers speculated that the virus “might cause damage by somehow entering the brain and infecting neurons, the cells responsible for transmitting and processing information,” according to a report.
But studies have since exposed that the virus has difficulty getting past the brain’s defense system—the blood brain barrier—and that it doesn’t necessarily attack neurons in any significant way.
Nevertheless, one way in which SARS-CoV-2 might be accessing the brain, experts have said, is by passing through the olfactory mucosa, the lining of the nasal cavity, which borders the brain.
The virus is often found in the nasal cavity — which is why health-care workers test by swabbing the nose.
Infected astrocytes, a population of cells within the brain, could explain some of the neurological symptoms associated with COVID-19, especially ailments like fatigue, and depression.
Other symptoms include confusion and forgetfulness, according to Arnold Kriegstein, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kriegstein has not treated Hailey.
Another expert, Serena Spudich, a neurologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who also hasn’t treated Hailey, has said infection with the coronavirus can indeed cause memory loss, strokes and other effects on the brain.
The question, she says, is: “Can we intervene early to address these abnormalities so that people don’t have long-term problems?”