Findings Add to Evidence of Association Between Zika Virus, Guillain-Barré Syndrome

October 18, 2017

CHICAGO -- October 18, 2017 -- An examination of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in Puerto Rico identified Zika virus infection as a risk factor, according to a study published by JAMA.

Increased GBS incidence has been reported in countries affected by the Zika virus epidemic.

Emilio Dirlikov, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and colleagues conducted a case-control study to identify risk factors associated with GBS during the Zika virus epidemic in Puerto Rico. The study included 39 patients with a confirmed GBS neurologic diagnosis.

Comparing case-patients and controls, identified GBS risk factors were acute illness within the previous 2 months (82% for case-patients vs 22% for controls), including multiple symptoms; acute Zika virus infection (23% case-patients vs 4% controls); and any laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection (69% case-patients vs 24% controls).

No other behaviours, exposures, or medical history variables were identified as risk factors.

A limitation of the study was its small sample size.

“The pathophysiology of Zika virus infection and risk factors for developing GBS require further investigation,” the authors wrote. “Clinical trials of the Zika virus vaccine should monitor for GBS. During Zika virus outbreaks, clinical suspicion should be elevated to improve GBS patient prognosis through prompt diagnosis and treatment.”

Reference: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.11483


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