It seems like it’s been lot longer, but 1st case of COVID-19 was officially recorded in December 2019. Researchers are continuing to research the complete effects of this disease, including unusual ones, and new analysis has now linked the infection to a rare neurological condition.
Acute transverse myelitis (ATM) – an inflammation of the spinal cord which may cause pain, paralysis and sensory problems – was identified in 43 adult COVID-19 cases across 21 countries, with patient ages starting from 21-73, and also 3 children aged 3-14 years old.
The review collects together previous research and case reports, and consistent with the team behind it, the info are enough to warrant further investigation. In any given year, the incidence of ATM is estimated to be just 1.34-4.6 cases per million people.
By contrast, during a 10-month period, the incidence of ATM amongst COVID-19 patients alone has ended up being around 0.5 cases per million, setting off red flags for the researchers.
“We found ATM to be an unexpectedly frequent neurological complication of COVID-19,” write the researchers. “Most cases (68%) had a latency of 10 days to 6 weeks which will indicate post-infectious neurological complications mediated by the host’s response to the virus.”
The new research adds to what we already know regarding COVID-19 and neurological complications: the disease has been related to numerous system nervosum issues, like a lingering ‘brain fog’ effect.
In these 43 cases, spinal cord lesions were found to steer to quadriplegia and paraplegia, with other associated problems including a loss of bladder control. The research was undertaken after a case was discovered in Panama.
Further cases were then collected from scientific literature published between March 2020 to January 2021.
“This review confirms that ATM isn’t uncommon as a neurological complication related to COVID-19 infection round the world, responsible perhaps for 1.2% of all neurological complications caused by this coronavirus,” the team concludes.
Since ATM is understood to be an immune-mediated condition (meaning the first cause is unclear, but there’s an involvement of our immunity system and inflammatory processes within the body), the researchers indicate there are some potential immune mechanisms that would explain how SARS-CoV-2 may cause ATM.
Furthermore, the team also notes that three ATM cases occurred in AstraZeneca vaccine trials. While each was investigated, the researchers note during this study that they could provide a clue on the immune mechanisms involved.
“The pathogenesis of ATM remains unknown, but it’s conceivable that SARS-CoV-2 antigens – perhaps also present within the AZD1222 COVID-19 vaccine or its chimpanzee adenovirus adjuvant – may induce immune mechanisms resulting in the myelitis,” they write.
Further studies should help find more answers and therefore the antigens involved, but it’s another reminder that we’re still an long-way from understanding everything that COVID-19 brings with it, whilst vaccines roll out across the planet .
Previous research has identified complications with pregnancies for people that contract COVID-19, and there’s also the continued problem of long COVID – those that suffer with symptoms for several months after largely getting through the initial illness.
While the coronavirus could be coming-under-control in many countries within the world – despite the threat of latest strains – research into the consequences of COVID-19 are going to carry-on for long- time after the pandemic is over.
The research has been published in Frontiers in Immunology.