Woman infected with Covid-19 suffered severe delirium that caused her to take her clothes off and drink body wash

  • The unidentified woman was mentally well when she tested positive for Covid
  • During quarantine, she started acting strangely and was taken to a Doha hospital
  • Doctors said she displayed ‘delirious mania’ brought on by the virus 

A woman stripped naked ‘for no reason’, drank shower gel and washed her clothes in a toilet after contracting Covid-19 in a bizarre display of delirious mania, doctors have revealed.

The unidentified patient, in her 30s, tested positive for the virus in Doha, Qatar, and was at the time considered well with no previous mental health issues.

But after four days of her home quarantine, during which she developed only mild physical symptoms of the virus, her family started to notice her displaying unusual behaviour.

A woman stripped naked ‘for no reason’, drank shower gel and washed her clothes in a toilet after contracting Covid-19

Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal Case Reports described how she had become ‘agitated, required less sleep and had been talking excessively’. 

She then started hallucinating and talking to people who were not there, called family members by the wrong name and even took off her clothes ‘inappropriately’.

The doctors said: ‘On the day of admission, she impulsively drank 100 mL of body wash which was the final factor leading her relative to bring her to hospital.’

Upon her arrival at hospital, her tests came out normal and she had no history of mental health problems, was not taking any medication and had never drunk alcohol or used drugs.

But she was ‘briefly tearful, highly agitated and kept wandering in the department and asking to go home’.

When she was seen by a psychiatrist, she said she was happy and wanted world peace and displayed ‘grandiose religious ideas believing she had a special “spiritual power” from God that she could give to others’.

The case report adds: ‘She was embarrassed about drinking the body wash prior to admission and explained her actions by saying she had liked its smell and taste.’ 

Recording her mental state, doctors said she was ‘elated’ but she had a short attention span and seemed overactive.

She was diagnosed with Covid-19 pneumonia but was also showing signs of delirium and mania, a side effect not normally associated with the virus.

Recording her mental state, doctors said she was ‘elated’ but she had a short attention span and seemed overactive

Delirium normally causes confusion and lack of awareness while mania is associated with intense mood swings and hyperactivity. 

The patient stayed in hospital for five days during which her vital signs remained normal but she continued to display bizarre behaviour.

Doctors noted: ‘For example, on one occasion she was observed singing and telling jokes to staff and soon after being tearful. Her speech remained pressured. 

‘The day after admission she washed her clothes in a toilet but was unable to explain her actions. 

‘On another occasion she reported brief visual hallucinations, seeing birds on the ward when there were none there.’

By day three of her admission, her condition had started to improve and she returned to normal by day five and she was discharged.

The woman and her family have reported no psychological issues and she is now aware of how ill she was.

The length of her delirious mania, which lasted nine days in total and started shortly after her positive Covid test, has led doctors to conclude the episode was caused by the virus.

They said it was ‘strongly implicated’ Covid was the cause of the mental state, noting her young age and her lack of previous psychological issues.

Doctors wrote the inflammation caused by the virus could have led to the psychiatric issues.

Delirium has been acknowledged as a rare side effect of the virus but it tends to affect older patients aged 65 and over.

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