What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
The Mayo Clinic defines Guillain-Barre as a “rare blood disorder” that causes your own immune system to attack your nerves. Symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome typically start with tingling & weakness in your extremities. The symptoms then quickly spread throughout your body leading to temporary paralysis. Most people recover, some requiring hospitalization for treatment to do so. The precise cause of Guillain-Barre is unknown, but it often comes on after “an infectious illness.”
What is the link between Guillain-Barre & Zika Virus?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been looking into a possible link between rises in Guillain-Barre cases that seem to correspond with a Zika Virus outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013-2014. The WHO ‘s conclusion is that more research needs to be done because all 42 cases studied in the French Polynesia research show sequential cases of dengue and Zika. Future research needs to be focused on learning the implications of the combination of dengue & Zika in the potential cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Meanwhile, a Colombian researcher shared with Sky News a discovery of “the [Zika] virus lingering” in patients with Guillain-Barre. Pointing out that a prolonged infection can lead to the immune system reacting in such a way that Guillain-Barre is the outcome. The story also reported that Cali University Hospital in Colombia usually would see just a couple of cases a month, but that number has doubled during the current Zika outbreak. During the Zika outbreak in French Polynesia, there were 20 times more cases of Guillain-Barre than in the previous 4 years. Right now, 8 countries in Central America & South America have reported a rise in Guillain-Barre syndrome.
It is not definitive that Zika Virus causes Guillain-Barre syndrome, but it is another piece of the puzzle the world’s medical & scientific community is trying to put together. In the meantime, we urge you to keep up with the CDC’s latest information on the Zika Virus & travel warnings for pregnant women.
We are committed to providing you the best information for staying up-to-date on the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses in the Central Massachusetts area. Stay tuned for the latest local mosquito news. Don’t forget, to limit the population of mosquitoes on your property, follow the 5T’s of mosquito control.