Updated
September 25th, 2019

Zika and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Link Confirmed

Zika confirmed in 23 of 30 Guillain-Barre cases

When the Zika virus first captured the public awareness in 2016, there was little discussion of co-infections.

Most people who contract the Zika virus showed no symptoms at all. Others suffered from mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, conjunctivitis and muscle aches.

Those Zika symptoms usually passed in a week.

But, some Zika infected adults also developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

GBS 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. GBS can result in paralysis and death.

Now, a research study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases involving Guillain-Barre syndrome and Zika on Martinique in 2016, reported that Zika was confirmed in 23 of 30. Guillain-Barre  cases

These researchers have concluded that testing for arboviruses such as Zika should be a standard protocol of GBS treatment.

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Additionally, these results indicate that RT-PCR testing of urine is a valuable diagnostic tool for the identification of ZIKV infection in patients with the Guillain–Barré syndrome.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that where you live, your travel history, and the travel history of your sex partner can affect your chances of getting Zika.

The CDC reports possible exposure to Zika virus includes:

  • travel to or residence in an area at risk for Zika virus transmission and with a CDC travel notice, or,
  • condomless sexual exposure to a partner who traveled to or lived in an area with risk of Zika virus transmission

This research was supported by the Bart McLean Fund for Neuroimmunology Research; Johns Hopkins Project Restore; and VIREM, Virology Laboratory Fund, Department of Microbiology, Universidad del Valle. The researchers did not disclose any conflicts of interest.