GBS|CIDP Foundation International's Global Medical Advisory Board recommendations on Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome

Mar 08, 2016, 09:17 ET from GBS|CIDP Foundation International

PHILADELPHIA, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The GBS|CIDP Foundation International has been closely following the fast moving story of Guillain-Barré syndrome following Zika infection first in French Polynesia and now in South America. On February 29, 2016, The Lancet released the first full account of the French Polynesian experience with GBS and Zika. The worldwide incidence of GBS is 2/100,000/year. The incidence of GBS cases during the French Polynesian outbreak was estimated to be 1 case of GBS for every 4000 Zika virus infections or about 24 GBS cases per 100,000 people/year, an extraordinary increase over the natural incidence. Since Zika virus sweeps through a population, the GBS cases came over a very short time period. This figure is similar to those from Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Suriname and Columbia, where a member of our Global Medical Advisory Board recently visited. Thus the relationship between Zika virus infection and a very large increase in GBS cases is clear.

The GBS|CIDP Foundation International urges Congress, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state health departments in the United States to be prepared for the coming Zika infection and the increase in GBS cases that will accompany this epidemic. We are concerned that without forewarning, our health systems will be overwhelmed.

Recommendations from the Global Medical Advisory Board of the GBS|CIDP Foundation International:

a) Education will be needed to alert those infected by Zika of the symptoms of GBS so they may seek healthcare early. The GBS|CIDP Foundation has materials on its website.

b) Education of first responder healthcare workers will be needed as the complications of Zika include a number of diseases clinically similar to GBS and diagnostic confusion might arise.

c) Early neurologic consultation including nerve conduction studies will be needed. Differentiating GBS from other illnesses including primary Zika infection itself is important as a recent study suggested that early neurologic consultation can improve outcomes in GBS.

d) Hospitals will need to be prepared for GBS patients, some of whom will have long stays in the Intensive Care Unit.

e) Resources will be needed to provide the proven treatments, IVIg and plasma exchange.

f)  Resources will be needed for additional rehabilitation required after the acute illness.

g) The IGOS Zika protocol, modeled on the successful IGOS protocol ( should be in place before the epidemics start to capture data.

h) Serological confirmation of Zika virus should be done in all cases of GBS with additional testing for the other triggers that may also lead to GBS such as dengue, chikungunya, C. jejuni, EBV, CMV, and hepatitis A/B/C/E.

i)  Biospecimens such as sera, urine, and spinal fluid should be saved and stored according to pre-specified protocols for future studies as this provides an unparalleled research opportunity to understand GBS and bring new treatments forward.

j)  Through the World Federation of Neurology, the American Academy of Neurology, and other organizations, neurologists should be engaged and prepared to see these patients and collect the important data.

The GBS|CIDP Foundation International is the preeminent global non-profit organization supporting individuals and their families affected by Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), and related syndromes through a commitment to support, education, research, and advocacy. The Foundation has more than 35,000 members throughout 47 countries and has a 26 member Global Medical Advisory Board comprised of the world's leading physicians in peripheral neuropathy research and patient care.

For additional information or to arrange an interview with a member of the Foundation's Global Medical Advisory Board or GBS patient, please contact:

Lisa Butler, Executive Director
(610) 667-0131


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SOURCE GBS|CIDP Foundation International