Health officials in Brazil are giving the public just one more reason to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate breeding sites–the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
The Superintendent of Epidemiological Surveillance (SES) says that since the beginning of the year, 10 cases of GBS have been reported in the state of Maranhão. in northeastern Brazil, according to a Jornal Meionorte report (computer translated).
In addition, officials say of 10 patients with GBS, six reported having had symptoms of Zika virus or Dengue for 20 days before the manifestation of GBS.
This is not the first time GBS has been linked to a mosquito borne virus. In late 2014, Tahiti reported four GBS cases suspected of being linked to chikungunya virus infection.
Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke say Guillain-Barré usually occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS.