Coronavirus: Scientists discover why COVID-19 causes loss of smell

08/01/2020 03:00 | NaN

Coronavirus: Scientists discover why COVID-19 causes loss of smell

The team, led by Dr Taylor Heald-Sargent of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, observed "a 10-fold to 100-fold greater amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract of young children". According to the scientists, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has a genetic similarity of about 96% to the RaTG13 coronavirus, a virus sampled from the Rhinolophus Affinis (a horseshoe bat species) in China's Yunnan province in 2013. An global team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS) recently identified the olfactory cell types that are most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19).

"Dr. Clyde Yancy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles, co-authored an editorial that accompanied the two new studies in the journal JAMA Cardiology called 'Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the Heart-Is Heart Failure the Next Chapter?"

In an effort to better understand why this particular symptom is so common among COVID-19 patients, an global team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS) was able to identify the olfactory cell types in the upper nasal cavity most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

"I think it's good news because once the infection clears, olfactory neurons don't appear to need to be replaced or rebuilt from scratch", Datta said.

Be that as it may, he included, "we need more information and a superior comprehension of the hidden systems to affirm this end".

Datta added that the findings could affect the way providers treat Covid-19 patients for anosmia and other neurological symptoms associated with the disease.

Out of those 100 COVID-19 patients, 78 still had visual signs that the virus had an impact on the heart.

Some studies have also suggested that anosmia in COVID-19 differs from when the condition is caused by other viral infections, including other coronaviruses.

Together, these data suggest that COVID-19-related anosmia may arise from a temporary loss of function of supporting cells in the olfactory epithelium, which causes changes to olfactory sensory nerves, the authors said.

Prof Datta said: "Anosmia seems like a curious phenomenon, but it can be devastating for the small fraction of people in whom it's persistent".

"It can have serious psychological effects and may be a significant public health issue if we have an increasing population with permanent loss of smell".

The researchers say they also hope the findings will help studies into whether the nose acts as a "reservoir" for coronavirus.

Evidence of loss of smell (anosmia) as a symptom of Covid-19 first emerged in late February 2020.

The advice says people should isolate if they have a new continuous cough, or fever, or anosmia.


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