Via CBC News: Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome linked in new CDC study. Excerpt:
The strongest evidence yet of a link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome was announced Friday afternoon at the American Academy of Neurology conference in Vancouver.
Dr. James Sejvar, a neuroepidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that currently 12 countries with Zika outbreaks are showing a rise in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disease that can cause temporary paralysis, sometimes leading to death.
A study CDC conducted in Brazil in January showed that almost 90 per cent of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome reported earlier symptoms associated with the Zika virus, five times the level scientists would have expected to find, Sejvar said.
He said blood and urine samples taken during the study are currently being analyzed in the hope of learning what it is about Zika that triggers Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Earlier this week, the CDC confirmed the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other serious birth defects.
"As a neurologist, I have never seen anything like what we are seeing [right now]," Sejvar said Friday.
Normally, Sejvar said, one or two cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome per 100,000 people worldwide are expected each year.
In Brazil, that rate is currently at 7.5 cases per 100,000, nearly four times higher, Sejvar said, noting that Colombia is also affected with a large number of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome.