When people talk about influenza, a general focus of the conversation is the physical symptoms — fever, congestion, muscle aches, and chills. In the vast majority of flu cases, these subside within a few weeks, and the virus disappears. But if you’ve ever felt the mental fog that comes with illness linger after physical symptoms disappear, there might now be science to explain why.
A study released this week in the Journal of Neuroscience found evidence that certain strains of influenza can cause neurological changes in the brain long after the illness is gone. With research performed on mice, the study is a look at an aspect of influenza that has been largely overlooked in this current epidemic, which has killed dozens of children in the United States since October and has infected tens of thousands of people nationwide.