Guillain-Barré syndrome and Zika virus outbreaks

Curr Opin Neurol. 2017 Oct;30(5):500-507. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000471.


Purpose of review: Arboviruses have been associated with central and peripheral nervous system injuries, in special the flaviviruses. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), transverse myelitis, meningoencephalitis, ophthalmological manifestations, and other neurological complications have been recently associated to Zika virus (ZIKV) infection. In this review, we aim to analyze the epidemiological aspects, possible pathophysiology, and what we have learned about the clinical and laboratory findings, as well as treatment of patients with ZIKV-associated neurological complications.

Recent findings: In the last decades, case series have suggested a possible link between flaviviruses and development of GBS. Recently, large outbreaks of ZIKV infection in Asia and the Americas have led to an increased incidence of GBS in these territories. Rapidly, several case reports and case series have reported an increase of all clinical forms and electrophysiological patterns of GBS, also including cases with associated central nervous system involvement. Finally, cases suggestive of acute transient polyneuritis, as well as acute and progressive postinfectious neuropathies associated to ZIKV infection have been reported, questioning the usually implicated mechanisms of neuronal injury.

Summary: The recent ZIKV outbreaks have triggered the occurrence of a myriad of neurological manifestations likely associated to this arbovirosis, in special GBS and its variants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / etiology*
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / virology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Zika Virus Infection / complications*
  • Zika Virus Infection / diagnosis
  • Zika Virus Infection / epidemiology
  • Zika Virus Infection / virology
  • Zika Virus*