Zika virus outbreak in Peru: 19 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome … – Daily Star


Health authorities suspect more than 19 cases of the syndrome in Peru and have warned hospitals to watch for symptoms in other people, the health ministry said in a statement. 

It added that the suspected cases will be confirmed in the coming days.

Guillain-Barre, in which the immune system attacks part of the nervous system, causes gradual weakness in the legs, arms and upper body and sometimes leads to total paralysis.

Four of the patients who are suspected to have the syndrome in Peru need respirators to support their breathing, the ministry said.

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OUTBREAK: There are 19 suspected cases of the Zika virus in Peru

Researchers have found a close association between an increased number of mosquito-born Zika infections and increases in Guillain-Barre.

There were some 500 confirmed cases and 5,269 suspected cases of Zika in Peru last year, up from a combined total of 1,651 suspected and confirmed cases in 2016, according to health ministry data.

The health ministry said between 3% and 5% of Guillain-Barre cases are fatal.

The acute neurological syndrome usually begins with muscle weakness before it produces a paralysis in the legs and arms resulting from damaged nerve cells.

There is no known cure for the disease and its exact cause is still unknown. 

“Initially, the patient feels a little pain in the legs”


Symptoms usually take two to four weeks to fully develop into high amounts of pain and weakness for patients.

Dr Luis Suárez Ognio of Health Ministry’s National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Disease Control said health investigators have taken blood and stool samples and tests from respiratory secretions to look into what types of virus or bacterias could be causing the sudden boost in Guillain-Barré.

“Initially, the patient feels a little pain in the legs, then in the arms, before it gets to the point that he can’t walk or hold anything with his hands,” he said in the ministry’s official statement.

“In some cases, muscle paralysis can affect the respiratory muscles and the patient will need to be set up to assisted breathing in an intensive care unit.”

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CONCERNED: Health officials have declared a national state of emergency

The group of experts investigating is made up of specialists from the National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Diseases (CDC-Peru), the National Institute of Health (INS) and the National Institute of Neurological Sciences (INCN) of the Ministry of Health.

Hans Vásquez of the INS said during a Wednesday press conference that, from these tests, his team has found the presence of an enterovirus.

He added that researchers are hopeful that they will be able to conclusively identify the exact bacteria causing this rapid rise in Guillain-Barré in the next few days.

Health officials suggested that Peruvians wash their hands before eating or preparing food.

If anyone appears to have any of the symptoms or signs, he or she should immediately get medical help as those who are treated sooner will see better results fighting the incurable syndrome.

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