Emergencies preparedness, response

Identification and management of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the context of Zika virus

Interim guidance

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Authors:
World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 11
Publication date: Updated 22 August 2016
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/ZIKV/MOC/16.4 Rev.1

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Overview

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. GBS can be triggered by a variety of infections, including dengue and chikungunya viruses. The syndrome can affect the peripheral nerves that control muscle strength as well as those that transmit feelings of pain, temperature and touch. This can result in muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the legs and/or arms. Approximately 25% of GBS patients require intensive care and 3-5% die even with appropriate supportive care, due to complications related to: paralysis of the muscles that control breathing; cardiac arrest; or blood clots.

This document aims to provide interim guidance on the case definition of GBS and strategies to manage the syndrome, in the context of Zika virus and its potential association with GBS. This document is intended to inform the development of local clinical protocols and health policies related to the care of patients with GBS. An expert meeting will be organized in March 2016 to develop additional guidance to identify and manage GBS and other possible neurological disorders in the context of Zika virus transmission.

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