The interactions of viruses with the nervous system were thought to be well understood until the recent outbreaks of Zika and SARS-CoV-2. In this review, we consider these emerging pathogens, the range and mechanisms of the neurological disease in humans, and how the biomedical research enterprise has pivoted to answer questions about viral pathogenesis, immune response, and the special vulnerability of the nervous system. ZIKV stands out as the only new virus in a generation, associating with congenital brain defects, neurological manifestations of microcephaly in newborns, and radiculopathy in adults. COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, has swept the planet in an unprecedented manner and is feared worldwide for its effect on the respiratory system, but recent evidence points to important neurological sequelae. These can include anosmia, vasculopathy, paresthesias, and stroke. Evidence of ZIKV and SARS-CoV-2 genetic material from neural tissue, and evidence of infection of neural cells, raises questions about how these emerging viruses produce disease, and where new therapies might emerge.
Neuroscientist (The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry)
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