Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, July 30, 2020
Sonja E Leonhard, David R. Cornblath, Hubert P Endtz, James J Sejvar, Bart C Jacobs
In the past decade, the world confronted several pandemics of emerging infectious diseases including Zika virus and most recently Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). One of the neurological complications reported in relation to these infectious diseases is the Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rapidly progressive immune- mediated polyradiculoneuropathy that can cause paresis in all limbs, cranial and respiratory muscles. Approximately 20% require admission to an intensive care unit and, 2% - 12% die, depending on the care available.
In the past research responses investigating a possible link between GBS and outbreaks of infectious diseases or vaccines have been delayed. This is problematic as healthcare institutions need to be able to prepare for increased incidences in patients with GBS, and public health personnel need to identify any possible mitigating factors. History now seems to repeat itself when case reports of SARS-CoV-2-related GBS are mounting, and disquiet over a possible association increases. As threats of epidemics of emerging infectious diseases persist, this is the time to learn from the past and to advance our response to future outbreaks in terms of research and management of GBS