Long covid infection linked with risk of 'face blindness', warns new study

News Network
March 21, 2023

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New Delhi, Mar 21: Prolonged symptoms of Covid-19 may be associated with difficulty recognising faces, a little-known condition called face blindness, and navigational problems, according to a study.

Previous studies have shown that Covid-19 can cause a range of neurological problems, including the loss of smell and taste, and impairments in attention, memory, speech, and language, known as "brain fog".

The latest research, published in the journal Cortex, is the first to report prosopagnosia, or face blindness, following symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The condition that can make people fail to recognise familiar faces, has been estimated to affect between 2 and 2.5 per cent of people in the world.

The researchers assessed the case of Annie, a 28-year-old customer service representative and part-time portrait artist in the US, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in March 2020 and suffered a symptom relapse two months later.

"When I first met Annie, she told me that she was unable to recognise the faces of her family," said Marie-Luise Kieseler, a graduate student at Dartmouth College in the US, adding Annie now relies on voices to recognise people.

Annie also experienced navigational deficits after having Covid-19. She has had difficulty remembering where particular sections in her grocery store are and relies on Google maps and its pin function to remember where she parks her car.

“The combination of prosopagnosia and navigational deficits that Annie had is something that caught our attention because the two deficits often go hand in hand after somebody either has had brain damage or developmental deficits,” said study senior author Brad Duchaine, a professor at Dartmouth.

"That co-occurrence is probably due to the two abilities depending on neighbouring brain regions in the temporal lobe," Duchaine said in a statement.

Dr. Vinit Suri, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi noted that the exact mechanisms by which long Covid may cause face blindness are not yet fully understood, but there are several possible explanations.

"Firstly, long Covid can cause a range of neurological symptoms which may affect the brain regions responsible for face recognition, causing difficulty in processing visual information and recognising familiar faces," Suri told PTI.

"Secondly, Covid-19 can cause inflammation and damage to the blood vessels, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain. This can cause brain damage and cognitive impairments, including face blindness," he added.

The research team conducted a series of tests with Annie to evaluate her problems with face recognition and determine whether she also has difficulties with other perceptual or cognitive abilities.

In one test, Annie was sequentially presented with 60 images of celebrity faces and was asked to name them. Annie correctly identified 29 per cent of the 48 celebrities whom she was familiar with as compared to most people, who can correctly identify 84 per cent of familiar celebrities.

The second test was a doppelganger test. Annie was shown a celebrity's name and then presented with images of two faces: the face of a celebrity and that of someone similar, and was then asked to identify which face was the famous person.

She identified the celebrity in 69 per cent of the 58 trials, as compared to 87 per cent in the control group.

"Our results from the test with unfamiliar faces show that it wasn't just that Annie couldn’t recall the name or biographical information of a famous person that she was familiar with, but she really has trouble learning new identities," said Kieseler.

The research team also obtained self-reported data from 54 individuals who had long Covid with symptoms for 12 weeks or more, and 32 persons who had reported that they had fully recovered from Covid-19.

Most respondents with long Covid reported that their cognitive and perceptual abilities had decreased since they had Covid.

"It was not just a small concentration of really impaired cases but a broad majority of people in the long Covid group reported noticeable difficulties doing things that they were able to do before contracting Covid-19 without any problems," Kieseler said.

"Our study highlights the sorts of perceptual problems with face recognition and navigation that can be caused by Covid-19 -- it is something that people should be aware of, especially physicians and other health care professionals,” Duchaine added.

Dr. Atul Prasad, Principal Director & HOD Neurology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi said this is the first report of long Covid causing prosopagnosia.

"The more we study the virus, the more we realise how much damage it can cause during acute infection and now after infection has settled," Prasad told PTI.

Suri noted that that not all people with long Covid will develop face blindness, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary widely.

"Further research is needed to better understand the relationship between long Covid and face blindness and to develop effective treatments and interventions for those affected," he added. 

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coastaldigest.com news network
April 10,2024

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Mangaluru, Apr 10: Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the coastal city of Mangaluru and other parts of coastal Karnataka today observed Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of 29-day-long blessed month of Ramadan. 

The occasion falls on the first day of the 10th lunar calendar month of Shawwal, the start of which varies based on the sighting of the new moon.

Braving the scorching sun, Muslim men and children - and in some parts women too - thronged Eidgahs and mosques to express gratitude to their Creator by offering Eid prayers after distributing Zakat and Fitr among the poor and needy.

While praying for the acceptance of their month-long fasting and charity among other deeds, the imams also prayed for the acceptance of sacrifices of people of Gaza wherein Israel regime’s bloody war claimed thousands of lives including children and women in past six months.

Twaqa Ahmed Musliyar, the Qadhi of Mangaluru, led the Eid prayers and delivered the sermon at the historic Eidgah mosque at Lighthouse Hill. “We have fasted for a month to comply with the command of the Almighty. Let us also lead a pious life in the remaining 11 months of the year,” he said.

He exchanged Eid greetings with the devotees and called upon them to remember the lesser privileged people and needy during the festivities. “We have a social responsibility towards the poor and needy. As long as we attend to their problems, God's blessings will continue to shower upon us,” he said.

Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker U T Khader and several people’s representatives offered prayers at Eidgah mosque. Volunteers from Zeeanth Bhaksh masjid helped the police in maintaining traffic and discipline.

Children dressed in festival attire added colour to the celebrations. People wished Eid Mubarak and hugged each other.

The Eid prayers were held in all prominent mosques across the city. Taqwa Masjid in Pumpwell, Masjidunnoor in Hampankatta, Ihasan Masjid near Unity Hospital, Bolar Islamic Centre in Bolar, Ibrahim Khaleel Masjid near State Bank, Jamia Masjid in Kudroli and Kachi Memon Masjid in Bunder were overcrowded with devotees. Several thousand devotees offered prayers at Central Juma Masjid in Ullal on the outskirts of the city.

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News Network
April 11,2024

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BJP MLA Arabail Shivaram Hebbar’s son Vivek Hebbar on Thursday, 11 April, joined the Congress party along with his supporters at Banavasi in Uttara Kannada district.

After quitting the BJP, Vivek Hebbar joined the party in the presence of state Congress vice president and former MLC Ivan D’Souza and other local party leaders.

Speculations have been rife about his father Shivaram Hebbar, an MLA from the Yellapur Assembly segment, also planning to join the Congress, ever since he did not turn up for voting during the polls to four seats of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka held on 27 February.

The senior Hebbar’s absence from voting, despite a party whip, had caused embarrassment to the BJP. He had, however, later attributed his absence to poor health.

The BJP had also issued notice to him, which he responded to.

Shivaram Hebbar had recently met Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar but claimed that the meeting was about water issues in his Assembly segment.

The senior BJP leader was earlier with the Congress. He was among 17 Congress-JD(S) legislators, who had quit from their parties, which ultimately led to the collapse of the then HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in July 2019.

Shivaram Hebbar had subsequently won the by-poll on a BJP ticket and served as a minister in the then government of the saffron party.

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News Network
April 11,2024

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Bengaluru: With six children of Karnataka Ministers in the Lok Sabha poll arena, the campaign scene is getting spiced up in the high-stakes elections for the ruling Congress in the state. Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Minister S S Mallikarjun, is also in the poll fray.

The grand old party tried its best to make several ministers enter the Lok Sabha election fray but none of them agreed and, instead, they proposed the candidature of their family members.

'Now, deliver' is the stern message of the Congress leadership to the ministers, putting the onus on them to ensure the victory of their kin, according to party sources.

The Congress secured only one seat in Karnataka in the 2019 general elections, and has now set an ambitious target of winning in 15 to 20 constituencies in the coming polls.

Elections in 28 constituencies in the State will be held in two phases on April 26 and May 7.

Sons of Laxmi Hebbalkar, Eshwar Khandre and H C Mahadevappa— Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar, Sagar Khandre and Sunil Bose— have been fielded from Belagavi (Belgaum), Bidar and Chamarajanagar, respectively.

Daughters of Satish Jarkiholi, Shivanand Patil and Ramalinga Reddy— Priyanka Jarkiholi, Samyukta Patil and Sowmya Reddy— are in contention in Chikkodi, Bagalkot and Bangalore South respectively.

Prabha Mallikarjun, wife of Minister S S Mallikarjun and daughter-in-law of veteran party leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, is the party's nominee from Davangere.

"In this 'do or die' situation, the ministers have found the Lok Sabha election a launch pad for their children and relatives. We have to see how these ministers succeed in their mission," a Congress insider said.

Barring Sowmya Reddy, who is a former MLA, none of them have any legislative experience in elections. Stakes are high for some other ministers as well.

The party has fielded Radhakrishna Doddamani, son-in-law of Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge in the family's home turf of Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), a seat held by the BJP.

Kharge's son and Minister Priyank Kharge has taken charge of spearheading the campaign in this segment, where his father had lost in the 2019 general elections.

"Priyank has taken this election as a prestige issue given the fact that the Congress president hails from here and had represented this constituency in the past in the Lok Sabha," a Congress leader said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month launched the BJP's formal campaign in Kalaburagi in what was seen as an aggressive message to the Congress.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and State Congress chief D K Shivakumar's brother D K Suresh is seeking reelection in Bangalore Rural, where the BJP and JD(S) have fielded noted cardiologist and son-in-law of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

The Congress which came to power in the state in May last year is seeking to ride on its five guarantee schemes of the government.

Sowmya Reddy, who is contesting from Bangalore South asked the women voters during a recent roadshow - "Do you travel in the buses? Which places have you visited in the recent past? Do you pay or travel for free?".

She was referring to 'Shakti' guarantee that offers free rides to Karnataka women in non-luxury government buses within the state. Reddy explained to the people about the four other guarantees— 'Gruha Lakshmi', 'Gruha Jyoti', 'Yuva Nidhi' and 'Anna Bhagya'.

"Who brought 'Achchhe Din'? Is it Congress or the BJP? Which 'Achchhe Din' you will vote for?" Reddy asked the women voters.

In Belagavi, Mrinal Ravindra Hebbalkar, is taking on BJP candidate and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.

In campaign meetings, Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar reminded the crowd how Shettar had joined Congress when the BJP denied him a ticket in the 2023 Assembly election, only to return to the saffron party a few months later.

"Shettar is from Hubballi and we are from Belagavi. We know the problems prevailing here better than any 'outsider'. Today, BJP people are saying that they vote for Shettar keeping Prime Minister Narendra Modi in mind, but I want to know why he joined Congress and abused the BJP, Modi and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa," the minister asked.

The BJP swept the 2019 general elections in Karnataka winning 25 out of the 28 seats, while an independent backed by the party also won. The Congress and JD(S) which fought the elections together, secured one seat each.

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