A new study suggests that COVID-19 may hide in your brain and cause relapses in patients who have recovered from the virus.
Researchers from Georgia State University conducted the study on mice and published the findings in the medical journal “Viruses” on Tuesday, according to Newsweek.
The researchers found that mice infected with coronavirus through their nasal passages developed severe illness due to brain infection even after the virus had left their lungs.
Lead researcher and study co-author Mukesh Kumar suggested the findings help explain why some patients who have recovered from COVID-19 later relapse and die.
"The brain is one of the regions where virus likes to hide," Kumar said in a press release. "That's why we're seeing severe disease and all these multiple symptoms like heart disease, stroke and all these long-haulers with loss of smell, loss of taste ... All of this has to do with the brain rather than with the lungs."
In the study, mice reported signs of the virus in their brains six days after it disappeared from their lungs.
"Our thinking that it's more of a respiratory disease is not necessarily true," Kumar said. "Once it infects the brain it can affect anything because the brain is controlling your lungs, the heart, everything. The brain is a very sensitive organ. It's the central processor for everything."
The researcher also suggests COVID-19 may lead to long-term neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
"It's scary," he said. "A lot of people think they got COVID and they recovered and now they're out of the woods. Now I feel like that's never going to be true. You may never be out of the woods."
More research still needs to be done to find conclusive evidence of how the virus effects the brains of humans.