Scientists discover cause of COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Why a person would still present symptoms of the coronavirus after they’ve cleared the infection has remained a mystery to doctors for more than a year.

Now, they may have an answer. In a new paper published in the latest issue of Pathogens, scientists say it has to do with the reactivation of another viral infection: the Epstein-Barr virus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the infection is in 90% of people worldwide. The virus can lead to mono. Symptoms of the Epstein-Barr virus are identical to COVID-19 and include organ inflammation, extreme fatigue and fever. Once a person contracts the virus, it stays in the body forever. However, it becomes inactive and stays quiet.

But, the coronavirus is waking it up.

So, why would COVID-19 trigger an Epstein-Barr infection?

The study “offers pretty compelling evidence at this point that there is something about the COVID infection,” said Dr. Christopher Doerhing, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health. “And the inflammation associated with COVID that causes a reactivation of the Epstein-Barr virus and may be associated or contributing to these long-haul COVID symptoms.”

Doerhing says there are still many unanswered questions and more researcher is needed. But for now, this explanation might bring these patients some peace of mind.

Watch the full interview below: