Patient with coroanvirus developed rare nervous disease, Henry Ford doctors say

A patient diagnosed with coronavirus developed a rare central nervous infection linked to the viral respiratory disease

Officials with Henry Ford Health Systems reported the case in the journal Radiology, saying a team of doctors said a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 had developed acute necrotizing encephalitis - a disease that usually afflicts young children.

The 58-year-old female patient has been hospitalized and is in serious condition.

Believed to be the first known case that connects coronavirus with encephalitis, the nerve disease was discovered after an MRI scan identified lesions or tears in the brain typically seen in these cases.

“This is significant for all providers to be aware of and looking out for in patients who present with an altered level of consciousness. We need to be thinking of how we’re going to incorporate patients with severe neurological disease into our treatment paradigm,” says Elissa Fory, M.D. a Henry Ford neurologist. “This complication is as devastating as severe lung disease.”

The patient had reported several days of a fever, cough and muscle aches - ally symptoms conducive with COVID-19. After being hospitalized March 19, she began to show signs of confusion, lethargy, and disorientation.

After tests for coronavirus came back positive, doctors performed CT and MRI scans, where they discovered lesions in parts of the brain that control consciousness, sensation, and memory function.