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Guillain-Barré Syndrome May Be Triggered by SARS-CoV-2 Infection

During study period, 22 percent with GBS had confirmed or probable SARS-CoV-2 infection; patients had uniform neurologic features

FRIDAY, Sept. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Within a series of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) patients, 22 percent had confirmed or probable severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in Brain.

Linda W. G. Luijten, from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational cohort study enrolling patients with GBS within two weeks from onset of weakness in an international study. Data from patients enrolled between Jan. 30, 2020, and May 30, 2020, were used to examine clinical and laboratory signs of a preceding or concurrent SARS-CoV-2 infection and to describe the associated clinical phenotype and disease course.

The researchers included 49 patients with GBS, of whom eight and three (16 and 6 percent) had a confirmed and a probable SARS-CoV-2 infection, respectively. Nine of these patients had no serological evidence of other recent preceding infections, while two had evidence of a recent Campylobacter jejuni infection. A sensorimotor variant was seen in 73 percent of the 11 patients, and facial palsy was seen in 64 percent. All eight patients who underwent electrophysiological examination had a demyelinating subtype; this was more prevalent than among other patients in the same time window (47 percent) and historical controls before the pandemic (52 percent). From onset of infection to neurological symptoms was a median of 16 days.

“Our study shows that COVID-19 may precede Guillain-Barré syndrome in rare cases,” a coauthor said in a statement, “but the existence of a true association or causal relation still needs to be established.”

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