Peru has declared a 90-day national health emergency due to an unusual rise in cases of the Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder of the peripheral nerves, often preceded by a virus infection. It usually starts in the lower limbs and results in abnormal sensation and muscle weakness or paralysis.
Peru’s state of emergency
According to Xinhua, there have been 165 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome with four deaths. At least 18 of the country’s 24 departments have reported at least one case of the syndrome.
In a desperate attempt to curb the rise of the illness, a budget of 12.12 million soles $3.3 million has been assigned with an aim to improve patient care in health facilities, reinforce case control and prepare informative material.
Efforts have been doubled for the acquisition of intravenous immunoglobulin and human albumin. Health personnel are also stepping up when it comes to effective diagnoses of the biological agents associated with the syndrome. The government will also be providing air transport for patients in emergency or critical condition.
Peru Health Minister Cesar Vasquez made a request for the emergency declaration on Wednesday before the Council of Ministers, saying that “if the number of cases increases, there could be a lack of immunoglobulin.”
The emergency decree issued stated that a spike in cases of a rare disease in such a short period of time “negatively affects the continuity of health services, as there are not enough strategic resources to respond to the volume and complexity of the cases in health facilities.”
Guillain-Barre syndrome rehabilitation
GBS sometimes occurs at a relatively young age and has relatively long life expectancies following the illness.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, approximately 40% of patients who are hospitalized with GBS will require admission to inpatient rehabilitation. If the patient requires prior ventilator support, it is most likely that he/she will have an extended length of stay in inpatient rehabilitation.
Other issues that affect rehabilitation are dysautonomia, cranial nerve involvement, and various medical complications associated with GBS.
Some common symptoms include:
Muscle Weakness: One of the primary symptoms of GBS is muscle weakness, which usually begins in the legs and spreads to the arms and upper body. The weakness can progress rapidly and may result in difficulty walking, standing, or performing daily activities.
Tingling and Numbness: Many individuals with GBS experience abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation in their extremities. This sensation may spread from the feet and hands to the arms and legs.
Loss of Reflexes: GBS often leads to a loss of reflexes, including the absence of knee-jerk and ankle reflexes. This can be a significant indicator of the condition.
Pain and Cramping: Some individuals with GBS may experience muscle pain, cramping, or aching sensations. This discomfort can be present even when the muscles are not being used.
Difficulty Speaking, Swallowing, or Breathing: In severe cases of GBS, muscle weakness can affect the muscles responsible for speech, swallowing, and breathing. This can lead to slurred speech, difficulty swallowing food or liquids, and even respiratory distress, requiring ventilatory support.
The treatment for Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) typically focuses on managing the symptoms, providing supportive care, and facilitating the recovery process. The specific treatment approach may vary depending on the individual’s condition and the severity of their symptoms. Some common treatment options include:
Hospitalization: People with GBS are often admitted to the hospital for close monitoring and medical care. This allows healthcare professionals to closely monitor their vital signs, respiratory function, and overall progression of the condition.
Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) Therapy: IVIG therapy involves the administration of high-dose immunoglobulins derived from donated blood. These immunoglobulins help to modulate the immune response and reduce inflammation, which can improve the symptoms of GBS and aid in the recovery process.
Plasma Exchange (Plasmapheresis): Plasma exchange involves removing a person’s blood plasma and replacing it with donated plasma or a substitute solution. This procedure helps remove harmful antibodies and other factors that contribute to the immune system’s attack on the peripheral nerves.
Pain Management: Medications may be prescribed to manage pain, discomfort, and other symptoms associated with GBS. These may include over-the-counter pain relievers or stronger prescription medications, depending on the individual’s needs.
Physical and Occupational Therapy: Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in GBS recovery. Physical and occupational therapy can help individuals regain strength, mobility, and independence. Therapists may focus on exercises, stretching, and range-of-motion activities to improve muscle strength and coordination.
Respiratory Support: In severe cases of GBS, when the muscles involved in breathing are affected, respiratory support may be necessary. This can include the use of mechanical ventilators or other assisted breathing devices to ensure adequate oxygen supply.
Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of treatment are crucial in GBS management. The treatment approach is usually tailored to the individual’s specific needs and may involve a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals.
Recovery from GBS can vary widely among individuals, with some experiencing a complete recovery while others may have residual weakness or other long-term complications. Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are essential to monitor progress, address any ongoing symptoms, and provide appropriate support throughout the recovery process.