Scientists had said they’ve confirmed that the Zika virus can cause Guillian-Barré syndrome which is a rare severe neurological disorder which kills 5% of people who develop it. Authorities in countries with the Zika virus outbreak should thus make sure they’ve enough intensive care beds to deal with an increase of patients with Guillian-Barré.
As of 2013, 32,000 peoe were assessed for a suspected Zika infection in French Polynesia. That’s where today’s study subjects cames from. Almost all 42 patients with Guillian-Barré had signs of a recent Zika I section in their blood. In addition, 37 of those patients said that they had symptoms of Zika six days before they experienced those of Guillian-Barré. The results suggests that Zika should be added to the lists of infectious pathogens gbat can cause Guillian-Barré according to the researchers notes.
“A definitive link between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
“Until now, everything was anecdotal,”
- Advertisement -
That was according to Lee Norman an intelligence officer in disaster medicine planning in the US Army National Guard who didn’t work on the study
“the first time that I’ve had confidence that there’s a definitive link between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
So far, most of the attention that the Zika virus has garnered has come from a possible link to birth defects. As a result, the CDC has advised pregnant women and their partners to stay away from Zika infected areas. But the association between Guillain-Barré and Zika virus could lead to a shift in scientists’ thinking on managing outbreaks, Norman says; authorities will have to cast a wider net. “It’s not like you go to Brazil and you don’t have to worry about Zika because ‘I’m a man or I’m a woman who’s 55 years old and I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant,’” he says. “We can’t narrowly focus our attention like a razor beam; Zika virus is an equal-opportunity virus” — and scientists will have to treat it as such.
There’s no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus, which is usually transmitted through mosquito bites. But for most people, it’s relatively harmless. Those who are infected rarely die from the illness, and only about one in five people actually experience symptoms, which can include conjunctivitis, mild fever, and joint pain. So scientists haven’t paid much attention to Zika since its discovery in 1947. But in early 2015, Brazil experienced an outbreak of the virus that coincided with a steep increase in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads. Authorities also noticed an increase in the number of people diagnosed with Guillain-Barré, a syndrome that affects about one in 100,000 peopleworldwide each year and can cause muscle weakness, respiratory failure, and even death. Now, scientists are trying to figure out if Zika really does cause birth defects and Guillain-Barré. There’s some evidence Zika exposure during pregnancy can lead to birth defects; today’s study comes close to confirming the virus’s link to Guillain-Barré.
42 patients with Guillain-Barré in French Polynesia
In the study, researchers sampled blood from patients who were diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome during an outbreak of Zika virus in French Polynesia, from November 2013 through February 2014. They took samples of blood from 42 patients with Guillain-Barré. The number of patients itself is unusually high; there were only 21 cases of Guillain-Barré between 2009 and 2012. The scientists also analyzed the blood of patients who didn’t have Guillain-Barré or a fever, but who went to the hospital during the outbreak, as well as the blood of patients who had Zika, but no neurological symptoms.
Although none of the patients with Guillain-Barré tested positive for Zika while in the hospital, 39 of them had antibodies in their blood that appear a few days after a Zika virus infection and that can last up to a year. In addition, 37 of these patients reported symptoms of Zika about six days before they developed Guillain-Barré. By comparison, only slightly over half of the 98 patients who didn’t have a fever or Guillain-Barré showed signs of an immune system reaction to Zika.
For every 100,000 people with Zika, 24 will develop the syndrome
There are several infections that are known to being the the cause of Guillian-Barré which also include Dengue. But dengue in its own isn’t the cause probably this time, because the proportion of patients with signs of a past dengue infection in their blood was similar in all three groups, according to the research. So the scientists estimates that for every 100,000 people infected with Zika, 24 will develop the syndrome.
The scientists estimate that for every 100,000 people infected with Zika, 24 will develop the syndrome.
The researchers could be overestimating the likelihood of developing Guillian-Barré after a Zika infection according to David Smith who is a microbiologist at University of Western Australia. He wrote a comment on the study yesterday.
“The study shows very strong evidence that Zika virus can trigger Guillain-Barré,”
Since there is some orrlap between antibodies that reacts yo dengue and antibodies that react to Zika, it could be possible that some cases of Guillian-Barré were actually caused by dengue. This means that scientists will be keeping some cases of studies like this one to come up with a good estimate of the risk which Zika poses.
Like Melinda Moore who is a public health physician at the Rand Corporation and a former deputy director at the CDC’s Office of Global Health Affairs, had agreed but insisted that the studies needs to be conducted elsewhere. This case, Researchers will need to find out if the cases of Guillian-Barré in French Polynesia are specific to that location, of if Zika in other areas can cause the syndrome as well according to her.
Animal studies are “needed to really prove the link.”
Animal studies are needed to really prove the link according to one Andrew Pekosz an immunologist at John Hopkins University. And more research that shows an increase in Guillain-Barré in areas with Zika wouldn’t be a pain.
“If Guillain-Barré consistently goes up when Zika infections are occurring, then goes down when the infections are not occurring, we would have additional data supporting a link between the two,”
Even though the risk factor at the Guillian-Barré is small, the consequences can be incredible. Most people who develop the syndrome recover from it, but about 30% of patients show sign of residual weakness 3 years later on.
The CDC has only cautioned women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant against travelling to the affected parts. Studies like this that broadens Zika’s reach can potentially change travel recommendation for people especially during thus important period of sport in the country the next world Olympics games this been scheduled in August, its been said that experts are calling for its cancellation.