The new coronavirus that has infected millions of people around the globe can wreak havoc far beyond the lungs. Some of the symptoms of the disease it causes, COVID-19, are predictable enough: cough, fever, chills, headache. But the pathogen’s effects by no means stop there. The virus can cause problems in almost every organ, including the brain, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and skin. Physicians have been taken aback at what they now call silent hypoxia, or happy hypoxia, a phenomenon in which people with dangerously low levels of blood oxygen are astonishingly not struggling to breathe. And there is “COVID toe,” painful swellings on the skin called chilblains. In rare cases, children—who were previously thought to be relatively spared from severe illness—come down with symptoms akin to Kawasaki disease, which leads to inflamed blood vessels throughout the body. Complications associated with blood clots, such as strokes and pulmonary embolisms (blockages of blood vessels in the lungs) also turn up. “It’s interesting that a respiratory virus will cause such a diverse array of clinical sequelae,” says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

 

 

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