Zika linked to increase in life-threatening neurologic conditions among adults in Brazil

Zika virus infection was associated with an increase in the incidence of serious neurologic syndromes among a cohort of Brazilian adults, in a new study published in JAMA Neurology.

Researchers examined the acute Zika virus infection rates among 40 patients hospitalized with Guillain-Barré syndrome, meningoencephalitis or transverse myelitis at a tertiary referral center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The patients were hospitalized between Dec. 5, 2015, and May 10, 2016. Researchers tested samples of serum and cerebrospinal fluid for Zika virus infection.

Of the 40 patients, 29 suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, seven from meningoencephalitis and three from transverse myelitis. Eighty-eight percent of patients had molecular and/or serologic evidence of recent Zika infection in the serum and/or cerebrospinal fluid.

Of the patients who tested positive for Zika infection, 27 had Guillain-Barré syndrome, five had encephalitis, two had transverse myelitis, and one had chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

Nine patients who tested positive for Zika infection were admitted to the intensive care unit and five required mechanical ventilation.

Compared with hospital admission during the period before the Brazilian outbreak of Zika (from Dec. 5, 2013, to May 10, 2014):

●    Admissions for Guillain-Barré syndrome increased from a mean of one per month to 5.6 per month during the study period
●    Admissions for encephalitis increased from 0.4 per month to 1.4 per month
●    Admissions for transverse myelitis remained constant at 0.6 per month

At three months, two patients positive for Zika infection and 18 had chronic pain.

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