West Nile Virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

West Nile Virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome

The dangers of the West Nile Virus in areas of the U.S. and other countries is known to most of us. Not as well kown is that it is believed the West Nile Virus can induce Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Given this news on WNV, it is important that neuropathy patients and those patients with neurological illness, in areas prone to mosquito infestation, take extra precautions to prevent such bites, as this is the means of its transmission to humans.

In addition to West Nile Virus being a possible cause of a neuropathy known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) many other neurological symptoms are possible when a human is infected.

A Neurologist would be most helpful in ruling on such a diagnosis and help you with the symptoms if you are diagnosed with infection of WNV.  You can review a list of Neuropathy Symptoms on the Neuropathy Support Network website.

While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that fatigue and weakness can be an issue, the most important issue for neuropathy patients is to rule out several things in any examination especially those regarding neurological issues and this would include Guillain-Barre Syndrome, encephalitis, and meningitis. If these are ruled out then treatment appears to be symptomatic and supportive.

Patients over the age of 60 and those with preexisting illnesses are at greater risk for serious illness and recovery may take weeks or months. Some neurological effects the CDC notes may be permanent.

The CDC website about the virus contains lots of patient information.

The symptoms and treatment for WNV are located on the CDC website.

Note that the CDC website article mentions the various neurological issues that may need to be addressed and if you are over 60 and have serious health issues especially a diagnosed neurological illness, the neurologic effects can be worse or permanent. So getting help from a doctor is very important for you.

If you are experiencing any of the effects from a diagnosis of WNV, each of those symptoms needs to be identified and a plan to address them would be important.

TREATMENT: The CDC mentions that there are limited treatments for WNV and thus treatment would be symptomatic. According to the CDC there currently is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for WNV infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms in severe cases, or patients may need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and nursing care.

In all of these issues it is very important that you discuss them with your doctor.

About the Author

LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS

Col Richardson has suffered with severe neuropathy for over 45 years. A 27 year military veteran and veteran of the Vietnam War, he was diagnosed with a progressive chronic peripheral neuropathy resulting in severe disability. This diagnosis has been confirmed as due to exposure to Agent Orange. It was not until 2010, 42 years after his exposure to Agent Orange, that his diagnosis was recognized by Veterans Affairs as service connected.

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