PUBLIC HEALTH IMAGE LIBRARY, JAMES GATHANY
Of 42 Guillain-Barré syndrome patients examined in a recent case-control study led by investigators at Institut Louis Malardé in French Polynesia, 41 had anti-Zika antibodies, providing the strongest evidence yet for an association between the viral infection and the rare neurological disorder that can cause paralysis. “This is the first study providing evidence for Zika virus infection causing Guillain-Barré syndrome,” the study’s authors wrote in The Lancet this week (February 29).
Scientists last week (February 23) reported there was no strong link between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome among children studied in several Pacific countries.
For the present study, the researchers screened adult Guillain-Barré syndrome patients—aged 36 to 56—for antibodies against four types of dengue. This enabled them to separate the potential effects of dengue infection from those of Zika. While 95 percent of patients in the study showed pre-existing dengue immunity, the...
While the researchers could not definitively rule out other viral causes for the rare neurological disorder, “suffice to say Zika virus can be added to our list of viruses that can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome,” scientists in Australia who were not involved in the study wrote in an accompanying commentary.