Get vaccinated, keep neurological issues at bay

Get vaccinated, keep neurological issues at bay
Get vaccinated, keep neurological issues at bay

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A neurologist has pointed out the importance of getting inoculated against the bitterly hostile infectious SARS-CoV2 to keep at bay neurologic complications such as encephalitis.

According to Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota, USA)’s Dr. Michel Toledano, encephalitis is the “inflammation of the brain, caused by an infection invading the brain (infectious encephalitis) or caused by the immune system attacking the brain in an error (autoimmune encephalitis) and which can also be triggered by an infection somewhere in the body without the infection invading the brain directly (post-infectious encephalitis).”

“It is important to stress that COVID19 (Novel Coronavirus) is now a vaccine-preventable disease. The best way to prevent potential neurologic complications of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and not get the virus in the first place,” he said.

Toledano was email interviewed as the “World Encephalitis Day” was observed last Feb. 22 (started in 2014 by the Encephalitis Society). He was asked regarding the connection between the upper respiratory tract disease of COVID-19 and neurologic functions.

He referred to the Encephalitis Society, a UK-registered charitable organisation when asked of the extent of encephalitis-related COVID-19 cases; even as from his end, Toledano said: “Very few cases of encephalitis have been reported in association with COVID-19 and no definitive evidence has emerged yet that virus can invade the brain. If there is a connection, it is likely that these cases represent a form of autoimmune post-infectious encephalitis but there is still much we do not understand.”

Saying that it is in severe cases of COVID19 that encephalitis had been traced, Toledano mentioned his young woman generally asymptomatic COVID-19 patient, who only exhibited low grade fever: “On the electroencephalogramme, she had slowing (a non-specific marker of brain dysfunctioning) but no seizures. Brain imaging and spinal fluid analysis were normal. Her confusion was resolved in over five days.”

On how COVID19 and neurologic functions such as encephalitis are inter-connected, Toledano said: “We have known for years that some viruses can trigger maladaptive immune responses that can cause brain injury. In some cases, we think viruses express proteins that are similar to our proteins in the brain. As the immune system learns to recognise and attack the virus, it attacks the brain by mistake.”

“In the case of COVID19, there is limited evidence suggesting that the virus can cause inflammation of blood vessels, including blood vessels in the brain. We still do not know. We still have a lot to learn, which is very humbling.”

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