Guillain Barre Syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a transient neurologic disorder involving inflammatory demyelination of the peripheral nerves. The syndrome is characterized by progressive symmetric weakness of the legs and arms with loss of reflexes. Occasionally sensory

abnormalities and paralysis of respiratory muscles will occur.

The etiology of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but increasing evidence suggests it is probably a humoral and cellular autoimmune disease induced by infection with a variety of microorganisms. The background rate of Guillain-Barre syndrome is one to two cases per 100,000 persons annually. Guillain-Barre syndrome has been associated with several vaccines. An influenza vaccine used in the mid-1970s (swine flu

vaccine) increased the incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome by a factor of eight. Warnings about Guillain-Barre syndrome continue to be given with annual influenza vaccinations. The hepatitis B vaccine derived from pooled plasma was also associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome; however, Guillain-Barre has not been reported with use of the currently available hepatitis B vaccines produced through recombinant DNA technology. Most recently, Guillain-Barre syndrome has been reported to occur with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.

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