GBS from Zika Virus Linked to Poor Olfactory Function

Postnatal Zika virus can cause other complications and health issues for those affected. According to Neurology Advisor, one such complication is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Researchers believe that GBS following postnatal Zika virus could highlight where the infection began: in the olfactory tract or peripheral nervous system. Thus, researchers questioned how Zika virus-associated GBS affected our olfactory sense (or sense of smell). 

Altogether, researchers evaluated 19 individuals with Guillain-Barré syndrome related to a Zika virus infection. Additionally, nine individuals with GBS who had not had Zika virus were included as a control group. The research team then followed the patients for a median period of 17-18 months. 

The data, published in the European Journal of Neurology, showed that those with Zika-associated GBS had lower olfactory function and were less able to smell or detect certain odors. In mice models, researchers saw similar findings: poor and impaired olfactory function. 

Ultimately, the research suggests that Zika virus could negatively impact the olfactory system and that, in the future, researchers and scientists should continue studying this potential connection. 

About Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder in which the immune system begins to attack your peripheral nerves. It begins with weakness and tingling in the hands and feet, though these sensations can quickly spread throughout and even paralyze your body. Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of GBS. However, an estimated 66% of those with GBS have some sort of infection within the 2 months prior to developing it. There is no cure for GBS, though treatment options can include plasmapheresis and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy. Recovery varies; for some, it may take years while others may be able to walk again within months. Symptoms and complications can, but do not always, include:

  • Tingling, weakness, and paralysis in the hands, legs, upper body, and face
  • Unsteady walking or difficulty walking/climbing stairs
  • Double vision
  • Severe pain
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Poor bladder or bowel control/function
  • Difficulty breathing
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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