Zika Virus now linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome
BREAKING NEWS: Guillain-Barre syndrome now linked to Zika infectionsZika virus spreads across Americas and now, with increasing risk of a rare paralyzing illness Guillain-Barre syndrome. Just on the 9th of February 2016 WHO warned against rushing to link Zika virus to Guillain-Barre syndrome, even though a WHO official acknowledged three reported deaths from the rare nerve disorder. WHO is now holding emergency meetings to advise on response to the Zika virus. Now it seems they were a little too fast with their dismissing a link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome asGuillain-Barre syndrome is increasing at an alarming rate in Zika infected areas.
This week Colombia warned of a sharp increase in patients with related paralysis disorders. One hospital used to maybe three cases a year of Guillain-Barre syndrome is now seeing that many new cases each week! And all patients were Zika virus positive. In the past few weeks alone the number of Zika infected patients with this syndrome has risen to hundreds.
Until now the focus has been on the dangers of Zika virus to pregnant women and with over 5000 pregnant women with the virus in Colombia, which is rapidly rising, there is great concern about the new born babies having microcephaly a deformation that results in small skulls and brains in the baby. In Brazil there were less than 200 microcephaly cases in the previous five years, now they are dealing with 3,500 cases in just four months. However, this new paralysis danger of the Zika virus could be a much bigger worry as it can affect anyone. And with the Zika virus now in 22 different countries from Mexico right down through South America and outbreaks in western countries becoming more frequent, Zika could be poised to cause a major outbreak raising the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming global proportions.Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare syndrome that causes our immune system to damage its own peripheral nervous system including the motor nerves, which the brain uses to control the muscles. It attacks these nerves, causing them to become inflamed and stop working. It can occur at any age but commonly affects people in the 30 to 50 years age group Fortunately most people with Guillain-Barre syndrome make a full recovery. Though still requiring several weeks or months in hospital and up to a year or more to fully recover. However, around 20% take several years to recover or have lasting effects such as fatigue, loss of sensation and balance, burning or tingling sensations or problems walking. Therapies such as counseling, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy are often needed. The only life threatening aspects of GBS are where someones immune system is already weak and complications can set in during the height of illness.
Despite much research, the cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown. It's thought an infection may be the trigger for GBS as most people contracting it have had a viral or bacterial infection a few weeks beforehand.
Symptoms often start in your feet and hands before spreading to your arms and then your legs. Initially, you may have: pain, tingling and numbness; progressive muscle weakness; co-ordination problems and unsteadiness. The weakness usually affects both sides of your body, and may get worse over several days.
WHO declares Zika virus as a global health emergency. What is a 'global health emergency'? The WHO uses the term Public Health Emergency of International Concern. When they define a disease as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations: to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response”. This definition implies a situation that: is serious, unusual or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and may require immediate international action.News snippets: Colombia confirms first three deaths of patients infected with Zika virus Total of more than 31,500 cases places Colombia second only to Brazil in severity of outbreak Zika virus: more than 5,000 pregnant women infected in Colombia Zika virus: survey shows many Latin Americans lack faith in handling of crisis Exclusive study also reveals large numbers of people agree with official advice that they should delay having children Zika virus: scientists present strong evidence of Guillain-Barre link Findings published as experts warn that paralyzing illness could overwhelm intensive care wards of Latin America