United States, Colombia: The new study, published by the medical journal Lancet, showed 42 patients developed symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), which causes the immune system to attack parts of the nervous system. The study has given first evidence that the Zika virus may be the cause for a spike in cases of a severe neurological disorder called the GBS.
The neurological symptoms include acute motor axonal neuropathy, which is characterised by severe paralysis. It also caused respiratory problems in about one-third of the patients who needed medical assistance to breathe properly, the report said. However, none of the patient-subjects died. The study said, “This is the first study providing evidence for Zika virus infection causing Guillain-Barré syndrome. Because Zika virus is spreading rapidly across the Americas, at risk countries need to prepare for adequate intensive care beds capacity to manage patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) described Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes, as a public health emergency of global concern in February. There are also suspicions that the virus could be linked to Brazil’s rise in cases of microcephaly: a condition of underdeveloped brains in newborns. However, the Colombian government has questioned the link, saying it has not seen any evidence for it after more than 3,000 pregnant women in the country contracted Zika. But Colombia’s health officials have said that at least three people of who died from Zika had symptoms of GBS.