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Zika Infection Linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Most patients diagnosed with Guillain-Barré during Zika outbreak have Zika virus IgM

TUESDAY, March 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Zika virus infection may be associated with incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, according to a study published online Feb. 29 in The Lancet.

Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau, Ph.D., from the Institut Louis Malardé in Papeete, French Polynesia, and colleagues conducted a case-control study involving 42 case patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome diagnosed during the Zika outbreak period between October 2013 and April 2014 in French Polynesia. Cases were matched with two groups of controls: age-, sex-, and residence-matched patients presenting with a non-febrile illness (control group 1; 98 patients) and age-matched patients with acute Zika virus disease and no neurological symptoms (control group 2; 70 patients).

The researchers found that 98 percent of the patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome had anti-Zika virus immunoglobulin (Ig)M or IgG, and 100 percent had neutralizing antibodies against Zika virus, compared with 56 percent of control group 1 (P < 0.0001). The majority (93 percent) of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome had Zika virus IgM and 88 percent had experienced a transient illness a median of six days prior to onset of neurological symptoms. Patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome had electrophysiological findings concordant with acute motor axonal neuropathy type; disease evolution was rapid. Twenty-nine percent of patients required respiratory assistance and none died.

“Because Zika virus is spreading rapidly across the Americas, at-risk countries need to prepare for adequate intensive care bed capacity to manage patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome,” the authors write.

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