Peru declares health emergency over Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)

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Peru has imposed a 90-day health emergency in response to an unusual outbreak of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a serious and rare neurological autoimmune disorder. The decision came after the country reported over 180 cases and four deaths attributed to GBS. The Peruvian health ministry expressed the need to take action to protect the population’s health and life. This is not the first time Peru has faced a GBS emergency, as a similar situation occurred in 2019.

The health emergency imposed by Peru is not the first time that Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) has found its way into the headlines. Celebrities like “The Bachelorette” star J P Rosenbaum, actor Andy Griffith, Swedish actress Lena Nyman, etc have been diagnosed with this condition. Many people like American swimmer Rowdy Gaines and musician Lucky Oceans also had this autoimmune syndrome. In 2019, J P Rosenbaum was hospitalised where he found out that he has Guillain-Barré Syndrome. At the time, he was struggling to do even normal day-to-day tasks due to the condition. In the same year, a writer from the ‘People magazine’, Brianne Tracy, came forward to share about her experience with GBS. At the young age of 23, Tracy was diagnosed with GBS. She had to struggle with severe symptoms of GBS. These instances make it very important for us to know about GBS and how it affects someone.

What do we know about Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)?

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare and serious neurological disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system. In this, the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the nerves, leading to muscle weakness, numbness, and in severe cases, paralysis. 

Generally, just before GBS, there are infections, such as respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. Then it starts with muscle weakness in the legs and spreading to the arms, weakness can progress rapidly and affect both sides of the body. Sensations of pins and needles or loss of sensation in the extremities, and loss of reflexes such as the knee-jerk reflex are prominent. Some individuals may experience varying degrees of pain, often described as aching or cramping and difficulties with walking, balance, and fine motor skills. In rare instances, GBS can lead to respiratory muscle weakness, requiring mechanical ventilation.

Dr Abhishek Juneja

Neurologist Dr Abhishek Juneja informs, “Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is a treatable disorder. Most of the patients recover completely over a few months following therapy and physiotherapy. Immunoglobulins and plasma exchange therapy are equally effective in the management of GBS.”

It’s important to note that each case of GBS is unique, and treatment approaches may vary depending on the individual’s specific needs. Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of treatment are crucial in managing GBS effectively and improving outcomes.

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