Guillain-Barré syndrome is a major complication of Zika virus and occurs in 1 in 4,000 or 5,000 cases, which makes it potentially a huge burden to healthcare providers and systems. Central nervous system disease is also being recognised increasingly. A series of clinical studies in ZikaPLAN are devoted to analysing the serious neurological complications in adults associated ZIKV infection.

“We want to study how the virus causes neurological complications and see how much is due to the virus and how much the body’s own immune response is contributing. Understanding these risk factors will hopefully lead to being able to do something about Zika.”

Prof. Tom Solomon, The University of Liverpool

Overall Objectives

This group aims to define the spectrum of neurological diseases associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection, in both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) of adults and children. This includes immunologically mediated illness, for example Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) or acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), and direct viral invasion of the nervous system for example meningoencephalitis and neuropathies. 

 Specific Objectives

An association between ZIKV infections and GBS will be defined by comparing the proportions of infected persons among GBS patients and the controls collected in the IGOS-ZIKA protocol. Researchers in this group are working to:

  • describe the clinical phenotype of GBS related to Zika and its long-term prognosis according to validated outcome measures and long-term follow-up protocols of IGOS,
  • study the association of ADEM, encephalitis and peripheral neuritis/neuropathies with Zika infections,
  • identify rare and unusual neurological manifestations of Zika infections,
  • strengthen the diagnostic capacity of neurological Zika disease,
  • establish a biobank of materials (cerebrospinal fluid, blood, etc.) – including control samples,
  • enhance understanding of disease mechanisms of neurological Zika disease by providing clinical information and biomaterials,
  • improve clinical management of neurological Zika disease.

Description of Work

NEURO-ZIKA builds upon ongoing studies in both Brazil and Colombia, through a strong network of collaborating centres. By linking a large network of hospitals it has the power to determine the risk factors, the range in clinical manifestations and severity of not only GBS but also other neurological manifestations, including meningoencephalitis, ADEM, myelitis, and neuromyelitis optica (NMO). In this rapidly evolving area it is becoming clear these may account for as much as 30% of Zika neurological disease.

MERG and NEURO-ZIKA Networks

MERG and NEURO-ZIKA Networks

Participating Organisations

Group leader: Prof. Tom Solomon, The University of Liverpool

  • Umeå University
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Oxford
  • Erasmus Universitair Medisch Centrum Rotterdam
  • Universidad del Valle
  • Fundação de Apoio à Universidade de São Paulo
  • Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)