Many people fear the Zika virus because it causes fever muscle and joint pain, headache, rashes and conjunctivitis. As for pregnant women, Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly in babies which involves the development of smaller head and brain deformities.
A new research suggests that Zika virus is also linked to a rare condition that can result into body paralysis and death, HEALTH reports. This disorder is called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
"The risk for a Zika-infected individual of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome is small-less than [one] case per 1,000 Zika infections," researcher and University of Glasgow neurology professor Dr. Hugh Willison told HEALTH. "So, individuals with acute Zika infection should not be greatly alarmed by the fear of developing of Guillain-Barre syndrome."
The research involved the study of the blood samples of more than 40 people who were diagnosed with the syndrome during the Zika virus outbreak. Despite the results of the research, a University of Western Australia professor David Smith said that the link between Zika virus and the development of Guillain-Barre syndrome is not yet definitive.
Smith noted that "it is difficult to conclusively prove Zika virus infection in all of these patients, because many also had been infected with the closely related dengue virus, which is common in French Polynesia. And interpretation of the antibody tests was difficult."
Guillain-Barre syndrome is considered an autoimmune disease because it involves the attack of a person's immune system on his own body, according to WebMD. Parts of the body attacked are the covering of different nerves which can cause paralysis and death. Some of the symptoms of the rare autoimmune disorder include muscle weakness, reduced reflexes, numbness and tingling sensations in the arms, face, legs and other body parts.
Aside from Zika virus infection, there are other types of virus and bacteria that can lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome. These infections include Campylobacter jejuni, Mycoplasma, Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus and Varicella-zoster virus, according to WebMD.
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