COVID-19 gives French man four-hour erection

A man in France has suffered a totally unique complication from COVID-19 - a four-hour erection.

The 62-year-old was already in hospital with the deadly disease when it began, according to a case report in the latest issue of The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Two days earlier he went to the doctor complaining of a lack of energy, fever, dry cough, and diarrhea. He was given an antibiotic, but two days later suffered shortness of breath - a key symptom of COVID-19 - and rushed to a hospital and placed on a ventilator. 

After treatment for other complications, a full body examination uncovered a "previously unidentified priapism" - in other words, a persistent erection.

But it wasn't any ordinary erection - the tip was flaccid, but two of the three chambers which make up the shaft were "rigid". 

"The patient was sedated and unable to answer questions about pain," the case report read.

Doctors quickly figured out it was being caused by blood clots - another known symptom of COVID-19 - so applied an ice pack and sucked the blood out with a needle. 

Four hours later, the priapism was gone. 

"The clinical and laboratory presentation in our patient strongly suggests priapism related to SARS-CoV-2 infection," the report said, warning other doctors to keep an eye out for it in their patients.

"This medical emergency should be recognised by healthcare professionals and treated promptly to prevent immediate and chronic functional complications."

COVID-19 has killed more than half-a-million people so far, and as a disease new to science, complications are still being discovered.