Girl’s ‘different personality’ after virus
A British teenager diagnosed with an inflammatory disorder associated with COVID-19 developed severe neurological conditions that left her with a "completely different personality".
Nia Haughton, 15, first developed symptoms in early April when she had a cough and a high temperature for about 10 days straight. When she began to deteriorate her mother, Justina Ward, called paramedics.
She was quickly admitted to a top London children's hospital after doctors recognised her illness was complex and advanced, according to NBC News.
She quickly started to show coronavirus symptoms and was sedated and placed on a ventilator in an intensive care unit where she remained for two weeks. She was put in a "prone" position for 16 hours a day - laying on her front, allowing for maximum ventilation to the back of the lungs. During this time, Nia was monitored by an anaesthesiologist.
Nia eventually began to recover and was taken off a ventilator - but several days after this her condition worsened and she began to experience neurological symptoms.
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Nia began hallucinating, saying she could see and hear people inside the hospital who weren't there.
"I couldn't tell what was real," Nia told NBC. "It was really scary. I could hear voices. It was very traumatic."
She also began to experience repeated, violent seizures, according to NBC's report. The symptoms left her exhausted and sleeping for long periods of time. Following the development of these symptoms, she was readmitted to the ICU.
During this time, Nia's personality and behaviour began to regress, and she started to appear like a younger version of herself.
"I don't know which was scarier, her being on the ventilator not being able to breathe, or the fact that she came out of it with a completely different personality," said Ms Ward, Nia's mother.
The teenager was diagnosed with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain by Dr Ming Lim, a paediatric neurologist from the Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Dr Lim, who is experienced with childhood inflammatory disorders, said Nia was never diagnosed with COVID-19. But he had seen patients who had a similar "COVID picture" of symptoms, who had tested positive for coronavirus.
He said many early patients were subjected to unreliable testing and his team had no reason not to diagnose her with COVID-19.
Dr Lim diagnosed Nia's neurological symptoms as a late-onset, secondary inflammatory illness linked with COVID-19.
He said he and his colleagues are focused on the impact the coronavirus is having on children.
"We worry that the long-term effect would be in essentially brain growth," he said.
Originally published as Girl's 'different personality' after virus