(Image: AAP/Richard Wainwright)

While it seems like years since we had a day that wasn’t completely dominated by the coronavirus, it is in reality an incredibly young disease. As such we are learning new things about what it does, or may do, to the body all the time.

Covid toe’ and other rashes

There have been many reports about “Covid toe” — a rash appearing on infected patients’ feet, sometimes in the absence of other symptoms. A small study by a group of doctors in Spain has found five rashes, which appeared to vary based on the age of the patient, affecting people with COVID-19.

The study found the most common form of rash presented to them was what’s called maculopapules — small red bumps that generally appear on the torso. Apart from that — and Covid toe — the study found:

  • Nine per cent of patients in the study had outbreaks of small itchy blisters on the trunk and limbs
  • 19 per cent had pink or white raised patches of skin reminiscent of nettle rash, and often itchy. Usually on the body, but sometimes on the palms of the hands
  • Six per cent of cases presented with livedo (or necrosis). The skin looked blotchy red or blue, with a net-like pattern. This appeared in older patients with severe illness.

Lead researcher Dr Ignacio Garcia-Dova told the BBC that, given the rashes generally appear after the respiratory affects of COVID-19, it was more useful for the broader understanding of the disease than as a tool of diagnosis.

Happy’ hypoxia

Doctors are reporting an extraordinary (and worrying) trend — a group of patients clinicians are calling “happy hypoxics”.

The damage to the lungs the virus can wreak is well documented; in serious cases, patients struggle to breathe. But doctors have been seeing infected patients — usually early in their infection — with extraordinarily low blood-oxygen levels (hypoxia), showing none of the difficulty breathing or even basic discomfort they would expect.

“There is a mismatch [between] what we see on the monitor and what the patient looks like in front of us,” Reuben Strayer, an emergency physician at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, told Science Magazine, describing patients scrolling their phones and chatting with doctors while their blood oxygen saturation fell as much as 40% below where it should be.

This condition, unsurprisingly, could be deadly. And, to reiterate, you might not know you have it! So anyway, enjoy your lunch.

And many many more …

Although the exact cause-and-effect relationship is unknown, there are several other serious issues that are presenting at the same time as COVID-19. The BBC reports that more than 2000 patients admitted to intensive care with the virus suffered kidney failure.

Elsewhere, people with the virus have presented with, or developed, heart disease and acute liver damage. In some cases, infected patients are displaying signs of brain dysfunction, and in some particularly serious cases, acute necrotizing encephalopathy, a rare central nervous system complication characterised by altered mental status and seizures.

Oh, and if you were wondering about poet Philip Larkin and his parents, here’s a helpful link.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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