AAN Offers Free Webinar on Zika Virus, Guillain-Barré Syndrome

June 08, 2016 01:55 pm News Staff

As the Zika virus outbreak continues to spread globally and now threatens North America, reports have indicated a number of patients who have been infected by the disease also have shown signs of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

[Physician with computer, tablet and phone]

In response, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is collaborating with the CDC to offer a free webinar(www.aan.com) for health care professionals on Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and its possible relationship to Zika virus infection.(www.cdc.gov) The agency has specifically asked the AAN to make this information available to other medical specialty groups, including the AAFP.

Presented by Ted Burns, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Neurology at the University of Virginia Health System, the webinar will be broadcast on June 17 at noon EDT.

The webinar will cover diagnosis, management and treatment of GBS, a condition in which a patient's own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and, sometimes, paralysis. Symptoms of GBS can last from a few weeks to several months. Most patients see complete resolution of their symptoms, but some experience permanent damage. One out of about every 20 cases proves fatal.

In the current outbreak, the Brazilian Ministry of Health was the first to report an increased incidence of GBS in patients infected with the Zika virus, and a recent CDC report(wwwnc.cdc.gov) examined the relationship between the viral infection and GBS.

Previously, a study published in the April 9 issue of The Lancet(www.thelancet.com) examined the GBS outbreak in French Polynesia that occurred between October 2013 and April 2014 and its possible association with a Zika virus outbreak that was occurring in the country at the same time.

The case-control study was the first of its kind to document a large population of patients who developed GBS after Zika virus infection. Of the patients with GBS, 88 percent reported symptomatic Zika virus infection that preceded the onset of neurological symptoms by a median of six days.

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