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Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome, a "so-called" auto-immune disease may be caused by infection with an intestinal bacterium called campylobacter jejuni.

A previously healthy person suddenly develops tingling and numbness primarily in the feet which within a couple of weeks spreads through the body to cause loss of muscle control and feeling throughout the body. Around 5 percent can lose control of their breathing muscles and require machines to keep them breathing. 70 percent recover completely, even though it may take a few months to a couple of years. However, around 30 percent will suffer permanent nerve damage.

More than 70 percent of those who suffer Guillain-Barre disease are infected with an intestinal bacteria called Campylobacter and many others are infected with another bacteria called mycoplasma or a virus called cytomegalovirus. There is no consistently effective treatment, but there is some evidence that some people are helped by taking blood fluid from many people called immunoglobulin that contain antibodies that kill bacteria and viruses. However, recent research from medical centers throughout the world warrant trials of antibiotics such as the longer-acting erythromycins and amoxacillins for several months. See report #G144.

1) RAC Hughes, JH Rees. Clinical and epidemiologic features of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997):S92-S98.

2) FGA Vandermeche, LH Visser, BC Jacobs, HP Endtz, J Meulstee, PA Vandoorn. Guillain-Barre syndrome: Multifactorial mechanisms versus defined subgroups. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997):S99-S102.

3) BM Allos. Association between Campylobacter infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997);S125-S128.

4) T Saida, S Kuroki, Q Hao, M Nishimura, M Nukina, H Obayashi. Campylobacter jejuni isolates from Japanese patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997):S129-S134.

5) Y Nevo, A Pestronk. Acute immune polyneuropathies: Correlations of serum antibodies to Campylobacter jejuni and Helicobacter pylori with anti-GM(1) antibodies and clinical patterns of disease. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997):S154-S156.

6) FJ Vriesendorp. Insights into Campylobacter jejuni-induced Guillain-Barre syndrome from the Lewis rat model of experimental allergic neuritis. Journal of Infectious Diseases 176: Suppl. 2(DEC 1997):S164-S168.

7) BM Allos. Campylobacter jejuni infection as a cause of the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America 12: 1(MAR 1998):173.

8) B Niklasson, B Hornfeldt, B Lundman. Could myocarditis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and Guillain-Barre syndrome be caused by one or more infectious agents carried by rodents? Emerging Infectious Diseases 4: 2 (APR-JUN 1998):187-193. incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, as well as the number of deaths caused by myocarditis, followed the fluctuations in numbers of bank voles.

9) BM Allos, FT Lippy, A Carlsen, RG Washburn, MJ Blaser. Campylobacter jejuni strains from patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Emerging Infectious Diseases 4: 2 (APR-JUN 1998):263-268. 10. A Esack, S Teelucksingh, N Singh. The Guillain-Barre syndrome following dengue fever.West Indian Medical Journal, 1999, Vol 48, Iss 1, pp 36-37.

Checked 8/9/05

January 1st, 2015
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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