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Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS)

Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS)


Recently, some patients infected with Covid-19 have been found suffering from Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). In India, such cases have been reported since August. A group of neurologists in Mumbai is now mapping these cases and their symptoms. So far, 24 cases have been added to the study.

Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS):

  • Guillain Barre Syndrome is a very rare autoimmune disorder.
  • A disorder in which the immune system, in an attempt to kill the coronavirus, accidentally starts attacking the peripheral nervous system.
    • The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves that lead from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. Attacking them can affect limb functions.


  • GBS is caused by bacteria or viral infection.
  • In the past, patients of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome showed GBS symptoms, as did those infected with Zika, HIV, Herpes virus, and Campylobacter jejuni.


  • The syndrome’s first symptoms are a tingling or itching sensation in the skin, followed by muscle weakness, pain, and numbness.
  • The symptoms may emerge first in feet and hands.
  • A person then starts experiencing reflex loss and paralysis, which may be temporary, but can last for 6-12 months or longer.
  • With Covid-19 a year old, it is still difficult to assess the nature of permanency GBS in such cases may present.


  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and sometimes plasma therapy helps recovery in patients with GBS.
  • If a patient is not treated, his condition may deteriorate as there could be a respiratory failure as the worst outcome or weakness and effect on walking and limb movement.
  • Patients cannot be treated at home, they need hospitalization and immunoglobulin or plasma.

GBS Development:

  • In June, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article giving case details of five patients in three hospitals in Italy, who suffered from this syndrome after getting infected by the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Initial symptoms were weakness in the lower limbs and a pricking sensation in the skin.
  • An interval of 5-10 days is noticed between the onset of GBS symptoms and Covid-19 infection, but some doctors say it can also take weeks after Covid-19 infection for a person to develop GBS.
  • The British Medical Journal published a similar case from Japan last month, where a 54-year-old woman developed numbness and weakness and required two-week hospitalization. Tests showed she had pneumonia in the chest, and her Covid-19 report came positive.
  • Various studies have some consensus: the GBS symptoms emerge a few days after the Covid-19 infection. Several patients who have recovered or are about to recover have developed their symptoms, and most have recovered.

Source: The Hindu