More Evidence that Zika Virus Can Cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome

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Virus detected in body fluids of Colombians with Guillain-Barré syndrome
Virus detected in body fluids of Colombians with Guillain-Barré syndrome

(HealthDay News) — In a new report, published online Oct. 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers says it has developed the strongest evidence to date that Zika virus can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Carlos Pardo, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, colleagues evaluated 68 patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome at Colombian hospitals. They performed tests on 42 of the patients to detect the presence of Zika virus.

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Using the most advanced genetic test available for the virus, researchers determined that 17 patients tested positive for Zika in their urine. Another 18 patients also displayed potential evidence of Zika infection. The research team went on to confirm Guillain-Barré syndrome in 14 of the patients with genetically validated Zika infection using nerve conduction exams. The researchers said that almost one-half of study participants complained of neurologic symptoms within four days of the onset of Zika symptoms.

"This is the first solid evidence that the virus is present in patients with Guillain-Barré," Pardo told HealthDay. "In a large population from multiple centers affected by Zika outbreaks, we were able to detect and culture the virus that was affecting those patients."

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