Epidemic

Scientific evidence links Zika virus to Guillain-Barré syndrome

There is strong scientific evidence that the Zika virus sweeping parts of Latin-America is linked to the Guillain-Barré syndrome, a severe neurological condition causing muscle weakness which can lead to paralysis. Scientists looked at the blood of 42 patients who had developed the syndrome in French Polynesia during an outbreak of the Zika virus, and found that most of them “had experienced symptoms of Zika virus infection on average six days before any neurological symptoms, and all carried Zika virus antibodies,” as lead author Prof Arnaud Fontanet writes in the Lancet journal. They found that about 24 in every 100,000 people infected with Zika developed GBS, and most patients got better quickly after the acute phase of the disease, with 57 percent of patients able to walk again after three months. The researchers warned, however, that the fact that these patients needed at least a month of hospital care after developing the syndrome could overwhelm the intensive care units of regions affected by the Zika virus. “At the peak of the epidemic, they may have to deal with many patients in intensive care units – where they are available, because they are not available everywhere,” Fontanet told the Guardian. “They [Guillain-Barré patients] monopolised the bed for 35 days.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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