WHO officials confirm connection between Guillain-Barre syndrome, Zika infection

World Health Organization officials have confirmed a connection between Guillain-Barre syndrome and Zika infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently received a notification that the National IHR Focal Point of the United States has found two Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) cases that are connected to Zika virus infections.

Currently, both of these cases are being investigated to find whether they meet the case definition of GBS from the Brighton Collaboration.

The first patient was an elderly male living in the U.S., who had recently traveled to Central America. He first developed an acute febrile illness not long after returning home. In January, he was hospitalized with progressive ascending weakness of the extremities, as well as diminished reflexes. His test results showed that he had the Zika virus infection. Just as he had improved enough for discharge, he had a sudden subarachnoid hemorrhage because of a ruptured aneurysm. He died quickly.

The second patient was a male adult who lives in Haiti. In January, he developed an acute onset of facial weakness, numbness in his fingers and difficult swallowing. Within a few days, he went to the U.S. to receive further medical care. Tests showed that he had elevated protein in his cerebrospinal fluid but normal white blood cells; a physical exam demonstrated diminished reflexes and mild weakness. His serology test showed that he had Zika virus infection. After receiving an IV immunoglobulin therapy, he was discharged from the hospital.

Health professionals are taking active measures to guarantee that the virus does not reach epidemic proportions.

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