Houston study: More contagious coronavirus strain now dominates

Modesto Morganelli
Settembre 24, 2020

He also urged Australians not to panic, particularly if they've recovered from COVID-19, because a "mosaic" of genetic and environmental risk factors contributed to the development of the disease.

"The contribution of presymptomatic and asymptomatic infections to overall SARS-CoV-2 transmission means that combination prevention measures, with enhanced hand and respiratory hygiene, testing and tracing, and isolation strategies and social distancing, will continue to be needed", Buitrago-Garcia added.

Barnham, who co-authored the new article published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, said that researchers are still trying to understand how the novel Coronavirus can get inside the human brain and invade into the central nervous system, but the fact that it is getting in there is clear. "Our best understanding is that the virus can cause insult to brain cells, with potential for neurodegeneration to follow on from there".

Five years after the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 1900s, there was up to a three-fold increase in the incidence of Parkinson's disease. "Given that the world's population has been hit again by a viral pandemic, it is very worrying indeed to consider the potential global increase of neurological diseases that could unfold down track".

The researchers hope to establish a simple, cost-effective screening protocol aiming to identify people in the community at risk of developing Parkinson's, or who are in early stages of the disease, at a time when therapies have the greatest potential to prevent onset of motor dysfunction.

The recent findings say that hospitalized patients with COVID-19 may face an increased risk for kidney damage or acute kidney injury (AKI), a dreaded complication for those suffering from an infection.

Loss of smell presented in about 90 per cent of people in the early stages of Parkinson's - even a decade ahead - presenting a "new way forward" in detecting someone's risk of developing the disease early, Ms Beauchamp said.

"We are talking about an insidious disease affecting 80,000 people in Australia, which is set to double by 2040 before even considering the potential consequences of COVID, and we now have no available disease-modifying therapies".

Clinical diagnosis of Parkinson's disease now relies on presentation of motor dysfunction, but research shows that by this time 50-70 per cent of dopamine cell loss in the brain has already occurred. This effect may indicate an immunological interaction between the two viruses, although they belong to different families of pathogens.

As per the study, while for some patients, the disease starts in the intestines and spreads from there to the brain through neural connections, in other cases, it starts in the brain and spreads to the intestines and other organs such as the heart.

The Houston researchers said patients infected with the variant strain had significantly higher amounts of the virus on initial diagnosis. Miguel's team came across this observation when they were studying how coronavirus has spread through Brazil.

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