In the past few months, COVID 19 has been associated with many severe health complications. Doctors at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, came across one such rare case, which might be the first reported case of post-covid encephalitis in India.
55 year old Mitlesh Labru from Jammu was diagnosed with Acute haemorrhagic Leuko Encephalitis: A neurological disorder: Encephalitis is caused by a virus that leads to immune system disorder causing inflammation in the brain.
Mr Labru had contracted COVID 19 with mild symptoms, post which he went into home quarantine. However, his condition deteriorated rapidly leading to shortness of breath. He was urgently shifted to a local hospital in Jammu. Diagnosis revealed that owing to COVID 19 the patient had contracted Pneumonia of the Lungs and was hence put on ventilator.
The doctors were not sure about the line of treatment considering the complexity and risk factors associated with patient’s health as he suffered from multiple co-morbidities such as Diabetes and Hypertension. Thus, the local doctors had to call in a team of experts from Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
Within 24 Hours, an expert team of doctors comprising Dr Mukesh Goel (Senior Consultant, Cardio Thoracic Surgeon), Dr Devjeevan (Senior Interventionist),Dr Priyadarshini Pal (Head of Emergency, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals) along with a perfusionist (a healthcare professional who operates the ECMO machine) and a nursing assistant was formed.
This team flew to Jammu, stabilised his oxygen ventilation and got the patient to Delhi via an air ambulance for further investigations and immediate treatment considering the fact that any further delay in treatment would have led to loss of life for the patient. He was admitted to Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals on December 1st 2020, under the supervision of Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology & Respiratory Disease.
Supervising the case Dr Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology & Respiratory Disease, said, “When the team reached Jammu the patient was in a critical condition, and unfit for travelling even on ECMO. His lungs had been severely damaged by Pneumonia. We first tried to stabilize his health so that would be fit enough to be shifted via an air ambulance to Delhi. At Apollo, he was admitted to the COVID ICU ward and we monitored his condition closely. While the patient manifested signs of recovery from COVID pneumonia within 2 days and was removed from the ventilator, we noticed that he had slipped into deep coma due to an underlying condition in his brain.”
Dr Vinit Suri, Senior Consultant, Neurosciences, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said, “Usually, when patients recovering from COVID pneumonia, and are removed from sedation and muscle relaxants (after being on a ventilator), they come back to consciousness within hours. ,But that was not the case with Mr. Labru. His MRI revealed that there were multiple swellings in the brain along with over 400 micro blood clots (haemorrhagic spots). This condition in association with the SARS COV-2 virus has been identified as COVID Encephalitis (Acute haemorrhagic Leuko Encephalitis). Fortunately, we were able to diagnose this condition on time, and with immune therapy and steroids, we were able to gradually revive the patient within 7 days to a complete state of consciousness and alertness. While he still has slight weakness in his limbs, his post treatment MRI shows more than 50% recovery and the patient has been discharged on 26th December.”
Encephalitis causes inflammation in the brain and is manifested by epileptic seizures, fever and headache. Association of COVID 19 with Encephalitis is rare and only few cases have been reported worldwide. It is not the virus that hits the brain but it’s the immune response towards the virus that causes inflammation in the brain.