-“Nothing beats the sight of a young, white man lying prostrate in a hospital bed.”
That crude statement from an acquaintance that works in a Primary care facility in the French Polynesia expressed anger at the system’s racism. As long as Zika was in the news as something that would only threaten “poor pregnant women”, it was considered as too exotic. But when an unusually high number of patients with Guillain Barre—a viral infection that produces a momentary paralysis of the four limbs—appeared in the wards, all the sanitary alarms went off, prompting a serious investigation by health authorities.
Dr. Frédéric Ghawché, a neurologist working at the “Centre Hospitalier de Polynésie Francaise”; headed a team that found that 41 of 42 patients diagnosed with GBS had anti-Zika virus immunoglobulin M (IgM) or IgG, and all had neutralizing antibodies against Zika compared with 54 (56%) of 98 people in an age-matched control group admitted for a non-febrile illness.
Even though specialists noted that the study lacked proof that the Zika virus might cause the GBS, it suggested there might be a linkage between the two. Flavirus antibodies are cross- reactive across the species and there could be spurious early antibody responses when the patient had another infection. They concluded that it was “very likely” that the GBS patients were infected with Zika in the past and the virus was added to the list of causative culprits.
All 42 of the GBS patients in the Tahiti case-control study received the standard treatment—intravenous immunoglobulin—and one even received plasmapheresis. The median duration of their hospital stay was only 11 days (with a range of 7 to 20 days) for all patients and 51 days (range of 16 to 70) for the more serious cases that were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Three months after their discharge only 24 patients (57%) were able to walk without assistance, which proves that the illness is not self-limiting for all.
I wonder what will prod the authorities of the BRSF to act against the looming threat.
A rise of GBS diagnoses in the public Jackson Memorial Hospital’s wards? Mmm…
A small, yet noticeable surge, in the private Baptist Hospital’s wards? Probably.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.