'Nobody knows the full spectrum of disease': Doctors address wide-range of reactions to COVID-19

There have been reports of pink eye, rash, gastrointestinal issues and impacts to the heart, liver and kidneys for people with COVID-19.


From pink eye to foot conditions and impacts to the heart, liver, kidney and gastrointestinal system, the list of issues related to COVID-19 continues to grow.

"COVID-19 is continuing to throw some curveballs at us as we learn more about it," said Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease expert with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Rupp said seeing multi-organ dysfunction in people with severe bacterial or viral infections is common.

"Some of these manifestations aren't that surprising in really anybody who is seriously ill," he said.

Rupp said there are two possible explanations being discussed. One of them: that the virus is causing inflammation of blood vessels.

"The vessels obviously feed every tissue in the body, so if they start to become involved, it can effect any organ system," Rupp said, "The other main pathway that folks are hypothesizing is kind of an activation of our own immune system and then an outpouring of pro-inflammatory chemicals that cause the body's immune system to kind of hyper react and cause some of these sepsis like manifestations."

Rupp said 80-85% of people who get COVID-19 won't need to be admitted to the hospital. He also said most people still show some of the "routine" symptoms of the novel coronavirus in addition to what Rupp called "oddball" symptoms.

"So it's very rare for somebody to present only with a rash and no other manifestations, or just with diarrhea and nothing else," he said.

Rupp said these developments help doctors learn more about the virus each day, and he hopes it will allow them to better treat people moving forward.

"We're chasing these things down and nobody knows the full spectrum of disease or the full syndrome of full pathogenesis at this point, but there's a lot being learned," he said.