Via the Jamaica Observer: GBS cases spike with CHIKV. Excerpt:
The University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew saw about five cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) between October and November 2014. According to consultant neurologist Dr Francene Gayle, on average, she has seen one case of GBS per year since she has been at the health facility.
The consultant neurologist told the Jamaica Observer that the chikungunya virus that swept across the island late last year and has left several with lingering joint pains caused a spike in the number of GBS cases.
"I must tell you that, on average, since I have been back, I have been home three years, so on average, I see maybe one case of GBS per year at the University Hospital of the West Indies," Dr Gayle disclosed.
"But with CHIKV, between October and November, we saw about five cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, so it resulted in a spike in the number of cases that we would normally see annually."
GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The symptoms generally include weakness and tingling in the limbs before spreading, and eventually resulting in paralysis.
Speaking to Your Health Your Wealth in a recent interview, Dr Gayle said there are a few causes but the commonest cause is post-viral illness. The consultant neurologist explained that influenza as well as a particular bacteria known as campylobacter jejuni can bring on GBS.
She also spoke specifically to the Jamaican context. "In our Jamaican context, chikungunya virus is also associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome," Dr Gayle said. "Viruses, on a whole, what they do is that your body mounts an attack against the infectious agent and, unfortunately, there are various proteins on the surface of the viruses that your immune system targets.
"These same proteins have similar proteins on the nerve linings and so the antibodies that are produced to fight these viral infections can actually be mediated against those proteins on the nerves within the body," she continued. "And so the nerves get damaged as a bystander."