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Study links even mild COVID-19 to changes in the brain – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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(CNN) — People who have even a mild case of Covid-19 may have accelerated aging of the brain and other changes to it, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature, is believed to be the largest of its kind. It found that the brains of those who had Covid-19 had a greater loss of gray matter and abnormalities in the brain tissue compared with those who didn’t have Covid-19. Many of those changes were in the area of the brain related to the sense of smell.

“We were quite surprised to see clear differences in the brain even with mild infection,” lead author Gwenaëlle Douaud, an associate professor of neurosciences at the University of Oxford, told CNN in an email.

Douaud and her colleagues evaluated brain imaging from 401 people who had Covid-19 between March 2020 and April 2021, both before infection and an average of 4½ months after infection. They compared the results with brain imaging of 384 uninfected people similar in age, socioeconomics and risk factors such as blood pressure and obesity. Of the 401 infected people, 15 had been hospitalized.

The 785 participants were between the ages of 51 and 81 and were all part of the UK Biobank, an ongoing government health database of 500,000 people begun in 2012.

Douaud explained that it is normal for people to lose 0.2% to 0.3% of gray matter every year in the memory-related areas of the brain as they age, but in the study evaluation, people who had been infected with the coronavirus lost an additional 0.2% to 2% of tissue compared with those who hadn’t been infected.

In addition to imaging, the participants were tested for their executive and cognitive function using the Trail Making Test, a tool used to help detect cognitive impairments associated with dementia and test a person’s brain processing speed and function. The researchers found that those who had the greatest brain tissue loss also performed the worst on this exam.

Although the areas of the brain most affected appear to be related to the olfactory system, Douaud said it wasn’t clear why that was the case.

“Since the abnormal changes we see in the infected participants’ brains might be partly related to their loss of smell, it is possible that recovering it might lead to these brain abnormalities becoming less marked over time. Similarly, it is likely that the harmful effects of the virus (whether direct, or indirect via inflammatory or immune reactions) decrease over time after infection. The best way to find out would be to scan these participants again in one or two years’ time,” she said.

Douaud added that the researchers anticipate reimaging and testing the participants in one or two years.

And while the study finds some association between infection and brain function, it’s still not clear why. Previous studies have shown people with significant and repeated loss of smell also have an associated loss of gray matter. However, this study did not evaluate whether people actually had a loss of smell.

The authors cautioned that the findings were only of a moment in time but noted that they “raise the possibility that longer-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection might in time contribute to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.”

The findings were noticeable, but they weren’t enough to cause alarm, said Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neurologist and director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Brain Health. Isaacson was not involved in the study.

Isaacson said the findings were noticeable for clinicians, but he added that the overall impact on individuals was difficult to determine and could be small. “It’s really hard to know the long-term clinical impact and quality of life impact in a situation like this,” he said.

“The brain may be affected by other mechanisms such as immune, inflammatory, vascular or psychological/behavioral change but not direct infection,” said Dr. Alan Carson, a professor of neuropsychiatry at the Center for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study.

“What this study almost certainly shows is the impact, in terms of neural changes,” he said. “But I don’t think it helps us understand the mechanisms underpinning cognitive change after Covid infection.”

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Mental Health Issues Demand Resolution

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Should those who hold public office show that they are of sound mind and body before taking office and during the years they serve? Are those bureaucrats who truly run our government ever tested or investigated for various mental health issues that could surely affect their performance as public employees?

Imagine what the mental state of public servants is like these days? Besides the Pandemics’ influence upon us all, these men and women are responsible for public service to their communities and nation. Man public employees are under vigorous scrutiny for their honesty and performance as employees, but what about their mental health challenges? Various municipal, State and Federal authorities make attempts to pinpoint an employee in need, someone needing assistance and direction in their professional and personal lives, but it is difficult to do. Privacy and union issues often stand in between the person in need and those who would assist them. Furthermore, many employees refuse to seek assistance, for reasons of professional survival. Say an employee has an important job where many decisions are made influencing the community at large(ie Police). That person needs assistance for some mental health issues but fears either losing their jobs or being declared problematic employees, slowing promotions or professional advancement. They clam up, interiorizing their pain, fear or distress.

Most public institutions will honestly admit they do not invest enough into mental health services for their fellow employees.

Our elected officials have much to hide away from their future or present-day electors. What if they have a skeleton in their closet? A colourful personal history, a criminal record, possible mental health or physical health issue. Issues that are allowed to be hidden from the transparency portfolio. If asked, tell the truth(as they see it), otherwise hide what can be hidden. Politicians performing their service to the community, are placed under a microscope by the electorate and media alike. This must be stressful to them and their families too. Are elected officials ever evaluated for mental health status ever, before being elected and during their service?

Do you think anyone with a criminal record or under investigation should be removed or barred from holding office or in a position of public trust? Is the trust of the electorate easily given? A public official or employee could mishandle a portfolio, or commit a crime while in public service. How often have you seen such an individual stand before the media’s camera, proclaiming their innocence or sorrow of their actions?

We have heard many public officials call for hugely needed investments in the treatment of mental health issues, yet these investments are either moving at a snail’s pace or not at all. Our military and police have been calling for assistance regarding their need for mental health programs for two decades with little happening. The government’s response is usually words, words, and more words with little accountable assistance given. Our government has enough revenue to invest in weapons for the police and military, building structures and community centers, highways and new computers, but when asked to invest in people, their employees and the electorate, it’s either too costly or they have not the funds.

The Police and Military: Have an immediate need for trained mental health professionals, therapists and therapy-recoup centers. If the government can send them into harm’s way, they are responsible to maintain their mental health.

Government Agencies: Due to privacy issues, the government should make allotments to their employees available to find and go to therapy. A healthy employee is a trusted effective one. The government should source mental health professionals for those who serve them. Furthermore, Governments and their agencies are responsible to encourage, initiate and plan for the training of these professionals. A well-paid professional will make their placement a long-term investment. If our public employees can rely upon their employer to care for them, we can rely upon our public sector.

An established long-term mental health program needs to be established. This can be all-inclusive to the entire community. For example, gun owners, and drivers of vehicles should be required to invest their time in an interview and possible retraining every five years. Should a mental health issue be recognized, it can be dealt with appropriately and calmly. Bad habits, addictions, attitudes and illnesses developed over time can be recognized and something is done about them promptly and privately.

We have forgotten that much that we receive from and within our society is a privilege, something that should be earnt, and not awarded. Our mental health changes over time, and so too our responsibility to our communities, family and society. Is the public sector becoming our parents, our caregivers? In many ways, it is, and so our overall health, and that of our minds may be calling for community maintenance.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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BC bird flu: Vancouver Island farmers on alert | CTV News – CTV News VI

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The fears of many chicken farmers on Vancouver Island have been realized. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that a case of the avian flu that’s been spreading across Canada has been found in a small flock in the Comox Valley on Wednesday.

Jeremy Vigini considers his birds pets, but they do provide limited income on his Black Creek, B.C., hobby farm, Broken Head Farms.

He’s only been at it for a few months but had heard the bird flu was headed towards the island.

“We first started hearing there was a problem last month,” he said, noting that he’d been keeping an eye on biosecurity and preventative measures.

Vigini and other poultry operations of all sizes are now under tighter restrictions after a positive case of the avian flu was confirmed on the Mid-Island.

“All we got was a post saying it’s in the Comox Valley now, and so our minds went to, ‘How do we secure our birds, our pets, all this stuff?'” he said.

Vigini’s now put up a new gate and increased fencing and netting to try to keep wild birds out.

WILDLIFE WORKERS

Staff and volunteers at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Centre (MARS) in Merville are increasing their protocols.

“[It’s] extremely contagious as far as we are aware, so at this point it can spread to any species of bird. Not necessarily all birds will show symptoms,” said Gylaine Andersen, manager of wildlife rehabilitation at MARS.

Staff are now taking a second look at the condition of their current patients.

“It’s kind of hard because a lot of these symptoms we’re seeing in animals anyway, and now we have to think, ‘OK maybe this is the flu instead of whatever else they would normally be,'” said Andersen.

The facility’s asking the general public to help out by encouraging birds to socially distance.

“For gathering of birds at bird feeders and bird baths, we are asking that people take those down,” said Andersen.

MARS is worried that if the avian flu is left unchecked, it could spread to wild birds, like eagles and geese.

As of Wednesday, seven properties across B.C. had confirmed cases of the avian flu. 

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Eating Disorder Foundation Call Recent CIHI Statistics “Alarming” – VOCM

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The Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador calls recent statistics released by CIHI “startling” and “alarming”.

The latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that hospitalizations for eating disorders among girls aged 10 to 17 increased by nearly 60 per cent since March of 2020. The rate of hospitalization for children for eating disorders is about 30 per 100,000 in this province compared with 20 per 100,000 nationally—an increase of roughly 30 per cent over pre-pandemic levels.

The Executive Director of the Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Paul Thomey, says what they’ve seen over the past two years lines up with CIHI’s findings.

He says they’ve seen unprecedented growth in the number of people presenting to the Janeway and the HOPE program. He says the waiting lists for their programs and the Janeway are startling,

He says in the youth programs, there are people waiting upwards of a year to see dieticians and psychologists.

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