Peruvian officials have announced a national emergency for 90 days due to a sudden spike in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological condition linked to various causes, including certain vaccines, the Zika virus, COVID-19, and other viruses, as reported by multiple sources.
Over the weekend, President Dina Boluarte proclaimed a decree that will allocate approximately $3.2 million to enhance patient care, ramp up detection efforts, and implement other necessary strategies, as conveyed by the Peruvian health ministry through a social media announcement. The emergency response will involve the purchase of intravenous immunoglobulin and human albumin, both derived from human plasma.
The ministry posted on Facebook, “Government declares health emergency due to unusual increase in cases of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.” As detailed in the official Peruvian government gazette and reported by MercoPress, the decree outlines that the unexpected rise in cases threatens the continuation of healthcare services. This is due to a shortage of essential resources to address the magnitude and intricacy of patients across various healthcare facilities.
The country has reported 182 instances of the disorder, with 147 patients being released from the hospital, 31 still receiving treatment, and four fatalities.
Health Minister César Vásquez said, “There has been a significant increase in recent weeks that forces us to take actions as a State to protect the health and life of the population.”
The U.S. government’s health authorities characterize GBS as a rare condition where the immune system wrongly targets part of the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms may vary from minor weakness to severe paralysis, causing an inability to breathe without assistance. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, although the condition can be severe, recovery is expected, though some may continue to experience some weakness.
In the context of GBS, the myelin sheaths of peripheral nerves become compromised, as detailed by Medical News Today. This non-contagious disorder leads to nerve damage, causing numbness and muscle weakness due to impaired signal transmission between the body and the brain.
The typical onset of symptoms, such as weakness in hands and feet or back and leg pain, tends to occur roughly three weeks following an infection.
The likelihood of developing GBS in the United States is approximately 1 in 100,000 people.