East County News Service
February 29, 2016 (San Diego) – Zika has recently been suspected of causing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. It can leave patients partially paralyzed, sometimes permanently, also causing breathing problems in severe cases after the patient’s immune system attacks nerve cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Now results of a study published in the medical journal The Lancet confirm that nearly all of the blood samples from 42 Guillain-Barré patients in French Polynesia in the South Pacific two years ago also tested positive for Zika virus.
Scientists called the findings “compelling,” the BBC reports. The neurological problems developed about six days after patients were infected with Zika virus.
They estimate that about 1 in every 4,000 people who contract Zika could develop Guillain-Barré and advise countries at risk of Zika to prepare for some Guillain-Barré cases as well.
A Zika outbreak in Brazil has also been suspected of causing several thousand cases of babies born with microcephaly, a normally rare condition that causes small skulls and brain damage. Thus far, microcephaly cases have not been found in other nations with severe Zika outbreaks, however, so it’s possible the Brazilian cases could have another cause such as chemical larvicides sprayed on water.