Investigation of a Guillain-Barré syndrome cluster in the Republic of Fiji

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Abstract

Background In 2014, we investigated a cluster of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in Fiji that occurred during a dengue epidemic. We designed a case-control study to determine the etiology. Methods Cases were patients meeting Brighton Collaboration criteria for GBS with onset from February 2014 to May 2014. Controls were persons without symptoms of GBS who were matched by age group and location. We collected information on demographics and potential exposures. Serum samples were tested for evidence of recent arboviral or Leptospira spp. infections. Results Nine cases of GBS were identified for an incidence of five cases per 100,000 population/year. Median age of cases was 27 years (range: 0.8–52); five (56%) were male. Six (67%) reported an acute illness prior to GBS onset. Among the 9 cases and 28 controls enrolled, odds ratios for reported exposures or antibodies against various arboviruses or Leptospira spp. were not statistically significant. Conclusions No clear etiologies were identified for this unusual GBS cluster. There was a temporal association between the GBS cluster and a dengue epidemic, but we were unable to substantiate an epidemiologic or laboratory association. Further study is needed to explore potential associations between arboviral infections and GBS.

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Pastula, D. M., Khan, A. S., Sharp, T. M., Biaukula, V. L., Naivalu, T. K., Rafai, E., … Kama, M. (2017). Investigation of a Guillain-Barré syndrome cluster in the Republic of Fiji. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 372, 350–355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2016.08.064

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