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Harvard researchers may have found reason some coronavirus patients first lose their sense of smell

The Crimson reports Harvard scientists have found that olfactory nerve cells that detect odors and relay the information to the brain have a couple of types of proteins on their surfaces that Covid-19 seems particularly adept at latching onto and using as a gateway to turn cells into virus-producing machines. So a person scratches his nose or breathes in some particles, the virus lands on these cells and attacks and eventually kills them - sometimes long before before the invaders reach the throat and lungs and wreak more serious damage.

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Comments

I would be more inclined to believe that they get there from inhaling viral particles (we are talking the way back of the way back here) than touching your face, but I would have guessed that it had something to do with virus farming itself in those particular cells.

It may not be the virus killing the cells directly, but also immune response attacking infected cells and all others around them.

Do we know if this most often happens in those who show few if any other symptoms? Or is that just a feature of someone not being too ill to report that symptom? It might give a clue as to who gets violently ill and who does not, possibly why.

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The Crimson article, at least, doesn't specify how the virus first gets into one's nose, which is not surprising, since that's not what the researchers were, well, researching. I was just thinking about the horrors of face touching that they keep warning us about, but I've added in the aerosol route.

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No opinion given as to which.

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The olfactory bulb nerves are a ways away from the nasal opening. For this to be an early manifestation, something would likely need to get there somewhat directly, rather than creep in slowly.

IMAGE(https://i2.wp.com/human-memory.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/olfactory-bulb.png?w=743&ssl=1)

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Maybe through the eyeball route then? Looks like a quicker path to those yellow fibers. Perhaps it starts at the front of the main branch and works it's way through to the back of the nasal passage... Not a doctor, just a random soul intrigued about how to stop this debilitating organism.

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There's been some academic discussion about neuroinfection in coronaviruses, olfactory route considered, and its relevance for COVID19.

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My sense of smell went out about two days before the cough kicked in, however I only realized this in retrospect. I suspect it faded out over a day or two. Given the first two days with the cough I though I was suffering from allergies I find it totally believable that my immune system was at least partially at fault. I finally started to smell things a good two or three days after I otherwise felt normal again (after about two weeks of being sick), so this all totally tracks with my experience.

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Be well, Lecil.

Glad to hear that you are gaining altitude on this!

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I hope that it wasn't too horrible and that you don't get it again.

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I am hoping that this was really "it" and that I do in fact have some immunity now; doctor wasn't able to get me tested because I wasn't sick enough, hadn't traveled enough, and do not work in the health care arena. If this wasn't "it", then hooo boy, there are two really really nasty bugs going around. This was considerably worse than the flu. Stay home folks; you don't want to get sick and you definitely don't want to bring this home to any loved ones!

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There is very limited data that would indicate community transmission by aerosols (i.e. inhaling) is even possible, unlike what occurs in healthcare settings during diagnosis and treatment where aerosols can and do cause a high rate of possible infection of healthcare workers. Please don't confuse aerosols/airborne transmission with droplet transmission.

Unless you are within sneezing/coughing distance of someone the more likely way you are going to get something on your face is by you touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your own hands. Droplets and fomites are the more likely route of transmission unless someone directly sneezes/coughs on you.

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