PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The coronavirus can lead to kidney failure and blood clots that result in the amputation of limbs.
Dr. Marc Itskowitz, an internal medicine physician at Allegheny Health Network, says COVID-19 is a new virus to health care officials and researchers.
That means there is no long-term data to truly understand the long-term consequences of the virus.
The coronavirus is primarily a respiratory virus, but it can affect multiple organs, like the heart, kidneys and even the brain.
"Is the virus directly affecting these organs, versus is it causing an immune reaction that is attacking the patient's own organs? So those two mechanisms are currently being evaluated," Itskowitz said.
Patients with severe forms of the virus can develop inflammation of the heart muscle and not fully recover. There can also be kidney failure and blood clots that could result in the amputation of limbs.
"What was recognized about a month ago is that many of these patients with severe illness, those that were hospitalized, were experiencing blood clots. It appears that this virus activates the coagulation cascades in a way that increases the risk of blood clots. So we are treating patients with blood thinners who are in the hospital with COVID-19," Itskowitz said.
So what's the bottom line?
"It is more contagious than the seasonal flu," Itskowitz said. "That's clear. Two, the incubation period is a lot longer. And that's why we had concerns all along, that people were walking around with symptoms and spreading it. And that's why social distancing became so important."
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