Some Covid-19 patients develop Guillain-Barre Syndrome, say doctors

Doctors are seeing a new addition to Covid-19 complications – the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare disease where the immune system attacks the nerves.

Published: 28th February 2021 04:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2021 04:15 AM   |  A+A-

Covid testing, Coronavirus

Health worker collects the swab sample of a person for Covid testing. (File Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Doctors are seeing a new addition to Covid-19 complications – the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare disease where the immune system attacks the nerves. Any viral infection triggers an immune response in the body, and if that response is in excess, then it damages nerve fibres. In such instances, patients become paralyzed, they may sometimes encounter difficulty in swallowing or even have facial palsy.

Usually GB Syndrome presents 10-12 days after any infection, could be due to gastroenteritis, respiratory infection, or sometimes, vaccine-related also. It has a seasonal trend and attacks during winter/monsoons. As Covid-19 is also a viral infection caused by a neurotropic virus (this virus implies an affinity towards the nervous system), it can trigger GB Syndrome, say doctors.

Doctors from Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, saw many cases where Covid patients were also seen getting infected with the GB Syndrome. “Usually, we see 5-6 cases spread across the year. However, last year, especially around September-October when the cases were at peak in Bengaluru, we witnessed a spike in GBS cases. This is the first time we have seen such a trend. We have seen more than 10 Covid patients diagnosed with GB Syndrome in our hospital.

The condition usually affects people who are middle-aged and/or those between 50 and 60 years,” said Dr Suryanarayana Sharma, Senior Consultant – Neurologist, Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road. Here is a case study. A 43 -year-old man complained of weakness in both lower limbs. On testing, the patient was found to be Covid-19 positive. Within a day or two, he had weakness in all the four limbs of the body, which was when the doctors considered that there was a possibility of GB Syndrome.

“We did a nerve conduction test and spinal fluid analysis and brain fluid analysis. All the tests confirmed the diagnosis for GB Syndrome. The patient was then started on IVIG -- a treatment for GB Syndrome. Eventually, the patient began to improve. He said, “Standard measures such as Covid-19 prevention, sanitization, social distancing and use of masks can help prevent any viral infection.”


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