A VERY weird Covid symptom has been discovered by scientists for the first time.
Researchers found some people who catch the disease suffer from a condition know as "face blindness".
The bizarre symptom that leaves people unable to recognise familiar faces, including loved ones, is rare but alarming.
Writing in the journal Cortex, medics from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, US, described the case of Annie, a 28-year-old who contracted Covid in March 2020.
The young woman had a fairly rough time with the bug, suffering high fever, shortness of breath, diarrhoea and coughing spells that were so bad she sometimes fainted from lack of oxygen.
Several weeks later, after her symptoms subsided, Annie returned back to work, but quickly noticed something was off when she struggled to recognise faces of colleagues she once knew.
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Annie only realised the severity of her condition while at a family party, when she failed to recognise the face of her own dad.
“It was as if my dad’s voice came out of a stranger’s face,” she said.
Upon evaluation by the Dartmouth team, all evidence suggested Annie had a deficit in face memory processing – medically as prosopagnosia.
Tests revealed the young woman also had difficulty navigating once-familiar places.
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Lead author, professor Brad Duchaine, of psychological and brain sciences, said: “The combination of prosopagnosia and navigational deficits that Annie had is something that caught our attention because the two deficits often go hand in hand after somebody either has had brain damage or developmental deficits."
He added: “It's been known that there are broad cognitive problems that can be caused by Covid-19, but here we're seeing severe and highly selective problems in Annie, and that suggests there might be a lot of other people who have quite severe and selective deficits following Covid.”
The number of people living with long Covid worldwide is unknown, but the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 1.8million people in the UK have the condition.
In the US, data from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 7.5 per cent of adults who caught the disease suffered from long Covid symptoms.
Covid jabs, which we rolled out across the UK, protected millions from severe illness.
Previous studies have found Covid can increase people's risk of Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease and and ischaemic stroke.
It’s currently unclear how a respiratory infection could lead to persistent neurological issues for some people.
There is no cure for prosopagnosia – people with the condition usually learn how to compensate.
And in Annie’s case, she now identifies her loved ones through their voices.
According to the NHS, symptoms of prosopagnosia include:
- Trouble identifying faces in person or in photographs
- Inability to describe faces
- Confusion when watching TV shows or movies that contain numerous characters
- Feeling of disorientation in crowded place
During the height of the pandemic, many people reported and discussed their unusual Covid symptoms on social media platforms
Another strange symptom that has been reported is prune-like skin.
Diana Pardo, 23 said if she touched water her skin would shrivel up.
She explained on a Reddit chat forum that the weird sign started around day five of her Covid-19 infection and that her hands felt tight and dry while she rinsed her hair.
"Within minutes of showering my hands became extremely prune-y", she added that the shrivelled texture was something she hadn't experienced before.
Many people have reported skin issues after catching Covid and this could be caused by an over-activation of a part of the immune system known as the 'complement response'. This leads to blood vessel damage.
Another patient said her infection started with flu-like symptoms but that her face and skin started to itch.
Rebecca Lefevre, 31 said the rash got so bad that her lips also swelled up – and she had to call an ambulance.
She questioned medics on whether it was related to the virus and they 'dismissed her concerns, giving her antihistmaines'.
Chilblain-like lesions along with hives are well-documented causes of Covid.
Hives will often appear alongside other conditions and are more common in middle aged patients.
Previous studies in China and Italy found that 26 per cent of Covid patients who had skin issues had hives.
The experts said: "Viral infections are a known trigger of hives, as they cause the breakdown of cells and the release of histamine through a cascade of reactions in the immune system."
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Drugs used to treat Covid-19 such as corticosteroids and remdesevir can cause side effects in some patients.
The experts said that it was important to note that you could experience hives if being treated with the above drugs.
Top 20 most common Covid symptoms now
1. Sore throat (found in 57% of cases)
2. Runny nose (57%)
3. Blocked nose (56%)
4. Sneezing (53%)
5. Headache (53%)
6. Cough no phlegm (50%)
7. Cough with phlegm (40%)
8. Hoarse voice 34%)
9. Muscle pain aches (29%)
10. Dizzy (19%)
11. Eye soreness (19%)
12. Fatigue (18%)
13. Swollen glands (17%)
14. Altered smell (17%)
15. Loss of smell (17%)
16. Earache (16%)
17. shortness of breath (14%)
18. Chest pain tightness (13%)
19. Chills or shivers (13%)
20. Joint pain shoulders (11%)
Source: ZOE Health Study
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