Zika Virus Might Cause a Rare Neurological Syndrome

A new study has provided the evidence of a link between zika virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological condition. A total of 32,000 suspected cases of Zika virus were reported in French Polynesia from 2013 to 2014. During this period, there was also a rise in the cases of the neurological syndrome.

European and French researchers studied 42 cases of Guillain-Barre between October 2013 and April 2014. The researchers found that 98% of the patients with Guillain-Barre had antibodies to Zika virus, suggesting that they had been infected with the virus. Only 56% of the individuals in the control group did not have Guillain-Barre. The symptoms of the mosquito-borne Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain was reported in 88% of the patients. These symptoms are usually reported a week bore developing Guillain-Barre. The study was published in the medical journal the Lancet.

Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said, “It is a well-done paper and clearly shows a link between Zika and Guillain-Barre in Polynesia.”

Zika virus has also been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, a congenital condition in which babies are born with abnormally small head with incomplete brain development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that eight countries have seen a rise in Guillain-Barre since 2015. In some of those areas, there is evidence of Zika infection among Guillain-Barre patients.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “Given the time course of clusters of Guillain-Barre after peak Zika virus infection, I think most epidemiologists would say it’s certainly related.”

Currently, there are 107 cases of Zika virus reported in the United States among the travelers who returned from Zika-affected areas. However, none of these resulted in Guillain-Barre, as it appears to be rare for infected individuals to develop this neurological syndrome.

With the warmer summer months ahead, there could be a rise in Aedes aegypti (carries of Zika virus), resulting in a large number of Zika cases.

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