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Guillain-Barre Syndrome (cont.)

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Causes

The cause of the disease is unknown. Many speculate that this is an immune-system disorder. Symptoms often begin 5 days to 3 weeks after a viral infection, immunization, or surgery.

The disease affects peripheral nerves, nerve roots, and cranial nerves. Evaluation of the peripheral nerves reveals sections of the nerve with demyelination. Under microscopic exam, the nerve tissue is infiltrated with certain types of white blood cells.

  • A viral infection, such as herpes, cytomegalovirus, or Epstein-Barr virus is the cause of over two-thirds of the new cases each year.
  • In 1977, there were over 500 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome associated with a United States flu vaccination program. The cause of this outbreak was never discovered.
  • 5-10% of new cases will occur up to 4 weeks after surgery.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/23/2014
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