Thursday May 23, 2019

Evidence Mounting Zika Virus Causes Paralytic Disease

Researchers have discovered the strongest evidence yet linking the Zika virus to the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre syndrome

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FILE - Aedes aegypti mosquitos, potential carriers of the Zika virus, are photographed in a laboratory at the University of El Salvador, in San Salvador, Feb. 3, 2016. Researchers have found that during the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.(VOA)
  • Guillain-Barre is a normally rare condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, the nerves in arms and legs that are responsible for sensation and movement
  • Treatment involves filtering the blood to clean up the immunological factors that attack the peripheral nervous system, causing Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Barre syndrome typically appeared two to six weeks after people showed signs of infection with Zika, including fever, rash, headache and an eye infection called conjunctivitis

Washington, October 9, 2016: Researchers have discovered the strongest evidence yet linking the Zika virus to the paralytic illness Guillain-Barre syndrome. During the height of the viral epidemic the incidence of Guillain-Barre was 100 times the number of cases usually seen.

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Guillain-Barre is a normally rare condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, the nerves in arms and legs that are responsible for sensation and movement. The immune system attacks the fatty myelin coating of the nerves that protect and speed signals from the brain to the limbs.

Zika is in a family of viruses transmitted by mosquitoes called flavivirus, including dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya.

Normally, there are between one and two cases of Guillian-Barre per hundred thousand adults according to Carlos Pardo, a neurologist and pathologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and lead author of a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But at the height of the Zika epidemic between January and June in Colombia, where the study was conducted, hospitals were seeing 10 to 15 cases per week.

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Pardo and colleagues from six institutions in the U.S., Central and South America established the first biological evidence connecting Zika to Guillain-Barre.

Investigators recruited 68 patients but because of research limitations were only able to look for evidence of Zika in 42 patients complaining of symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome. They underwent a genetics test looking for Zika RNA.

Seventeen – or 40 percent – of patients showed the virus’ genetic footprint.

Pardo’s team also conducted blood and urine tests on each patient. Investigators were able to culture the virus in the urine and found immune system-produced antibodies against Zika in the blood samples. The most positive results were in the urine.

FILE - A mother holds her son who is 4-months old and born with microcephaly, in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, Feb. 11, 2016. Researcher Carlos Pardo says that during the height of the Zika outbreak the magnitude of the paralytic disease Guillain-Barre was similar to that of microcephaly but went underreported. (VOA)
FILE – A mother holds her son who is 4-months old and born with microcephaly, in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, Feb. 11, 2016. Researcher Carlos Pardo says that during the height of the Zika outbreak the magnitude of the paralytic disease Guillain-Barre was similar to that of microcephaly but went underreported. (VOA)

Underreported

Occurrence of the disease was reported less in the media than microcephaly, another condition that linked to Zika. Microcephaly causes an abnormally small head and brain in newborns of mothers infected with Zika, leaving babies severely disabled.

Pardo says the magnitude of Guillain-Barre was similar to microcephaly.

Pardo says symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome typically appeared two to six weeks after people showed signs of infection with Zika, including fever, rash, headache and an eye infection called conjunctivitis.

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Pardo says it’s important to get to patients early because there are treatments that can lessen the severity of Guillain-Barre.

“If we are able to diagnose those patients in an early stage, we are able to provide them with an early treatment… that may prevent those neurological disabilities,” said Pardo.

For now, the Zika epidemic has settled down with the rainy season.

But Pardo is worried what will happen when the weather in the Americas gets warmer and drier at the end of the year.

“Subsequently, there’s going to be a higher risk for Guillian-Barre and obviously maternal infection and higher risk for pregnant mothers to have babies with microcephaly,” said Pardo.

Treatment involves filtering the blood to clean up the immunological factors that attack the peripheral nervous system, causing Guillain-Barre syndrome. (VOA)

Next Story

1bn People Could be Exposed to Dengue, Zika by 2080

Dengue is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease across the world today, causing nearly 400 million infections every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)

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Aedes
Dengue is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito that typically attacks during day time. Pixabay

Global warming could expose as many as a billion people to mosquito-borne diseases including dengue and Zika by 2080, says a new study that examined temperature changes on a monthly basis worldwide.

The study found that with the rise in temperature, dengue is expected to have a year-round transmission in the tropics and seasonal risks almost everywhere else. A greater intensity of infections is also predicted.

To understand, researchers from Georgetown University in the US looked at temperatures month by month to project the risks through 2050 and 2080.

While almost all of the world’s population could be exposed at some point in the next 50 years, places like Europe, North America, and high elevations in the tropics that used to be too cold for the viruses will face new diseases like dengue.

On the other hand, in areas with the worst climate increase, including west Africa and southeast Asia, serious reductions are expected for the Aedes albopictus mosquito, most noticeably in southeast Asia and west Africa, revealed the study, published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Dengue vaccine.
A Manila Health officer shows off a pair of vials of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after being recalled from local government health centers Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The World Health Organization says the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in “a much safer way,” meaning that the shot should mostly be given to people who have previously been infected with the disease. VOA

Both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes can carry dengue, chikunguyna and Zika viruses, as well as at least a dozen other emerging diseases.

“Climate change is the largest and most comprehensive threat to global health security,” said Colin J. Carlson, postdoctoral candidate in Georgetown University in the US.

“The risk of disease transmission is a serious problem, even over the next few decades,” Carlson added.

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Dengue is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease across the world today, causing nearly 400 million infections every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The 2018 data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) and National Health Profile showed that cases of dengue increased 300 per cent — from less than 60,000 cases in 2009, it increased to 188,401 in 2017. (IANS)