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The spectrum and extent of the Zika virus is still evolving. Lancet has reported 42 patients diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) during the Zika virus outbreak in French Polynesia. All of these patients experienced symptoms of Zika virus infection on average 6 days before neurological symptoms, and all carried Zika virus antibodies. These findings suggest that for every 100000 people were infected with Zika virus, 24 would develop GBS.
Zika virus infection is associated with symptoms such as fever, rash, joint and muscle pain and conjunctivitis. The current Zika outbreak in Central and South America was followed by increased reports of cases of microcephaly and GBS, leading the World Health Organisation to declare it a global emergency.
The aim of the study was to determine the link between Zika virus infection and GBS. Since French Polynesia is also prone to outbreaks of dengue virus, the researchers also wanted to see whether dengue virus was an additional risk factor for GBS.
All 42 GBS were diagnosed with acute-motor axonal neuropathy, but few carried the biological markers typically associated with AMAN, suggesting an alternative mechanism. These patients recovered faster than usually expected with GBS. GBS lead to hospitalization in 16 (38%), mechanical ventilation in 12 (29%), no deaths and a return to normal walking (by 3 mos.) in 57%.