Mexican authorities report cases of Zika linked Guillain-Barre syndrome

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Five cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome associated with the Zika virus infection have been confirmed in Mexico, the country’s Secretary of Health said on Thursday.

The cases, found in the southern part of the country, were identified in three men and two women averaging 18 years old, health authorities said.

To date, Mexico has reported a total of 3,268 locally acquired cases of the Zika virus, which has also been linked to the birth defect microcephaly.

Guillain-Barre, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, causes gradual weakness in the legs, arms and upper body, and, occasionally, temporary paralysis. Patients often require intensive care and a respirator to support breathing.

In a report published as a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of August, researchers found a close association between an increased number of Zika infections and increases in Guillain-Barre, with its incidence waning as Zika infections also diminished.

The World Health Organization said on Thursday the Mexican cases were reported for the first time during the past week, putting Mexico on a list with more than a dozen other countries that have reported cases of the Zika-linked syndrome.

Reporting by Natalie Schachar and Noe Torres; Editing by Paul Tait