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More patients being treated for GBS at hospital

More patients being  treated for GBS at hospital

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Since the first case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) was diagnosed here, additional patients have been treated at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) for the disease, which is said to be linked to the mosquito borne virus Zika.

During an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Simone Keizer-Beache disclosed that the new cases are stable and improving.

The Ministry of Health announced on July 9 that they were treating a patient with GBS.{{more}}

Keizer-Beache, however, explained that with the first patient, there was no laboratory confirmation that the patient had contracted the Zika virus, therefore she could not confirm that in that case the GBS was related to Zika.

She also noted that the first patient had already been discharged.

The CMO pointed out that unlike microcephaly, which only affects babies, everyone is susceptible to GBS.

“The majority of people are going to recover; some persons might have residual problems; they might not recover all of their power…but some persons might die.”

Keizer-Beache explained that the typical pattern of GBS is numbness and weakness, starting from the lower extremities.

However, she noted that Zika related GBS does not follow the classical pattern of GBS.

“Any sort of weakness or numbness that you might experience, whether it starts in your shoulders or starts in your feet, that should cause concern; you should go to see you doctor as early as possible,” Keizer-Beache said.

“The earlier you get it the better the possibility in halting the progression and not having the severe complications of GBS such as needing to being on the ventilator to breathe; we haven’t had to put anybody on a ventilator.”

In a recent article in the Jamaica Observer, Delano Franklyn, the former chief advisor to former prime minister PJ Patterson recounted his experience with GBS.

Franklyn noted that he had contracted the Zika virus around June 16 or 17 and it was during travel on June 25 and 26 he first started noticing symptoms.

And after a few days, with the pain intensifying, he contacted his doctor who at first thought that he was suffering from a relapse of Zika.

After a few more days, Franklyn explained that after not being able to keep any food down and with the pain becoming more painful, his doctor decided that he had to be hospitalized.

He disclosed that while the doctors did not rule out that he was suffering from GBS, they had concluded that whatever he was suffering from was related to the Zika virus, since he had not been afflicted with any other viral infection.

He noted that it was not until later that they definitively determined that he was in fact suffering from GBS.

Franklyn noted that had he not been able to meet the astronomical cost of the drugs needed to treat the illness, he would not be alive to share his story.

And during last Wednesday’s interview, the chief medical officer revealed that the cost of treating GBS with the Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) can be as much as US$40,000 per patient.

“That is just the medication because the people are normally looked after either in an ICU…the other care is going to be expensive, but just the medication alone is between $25 – 40 000,” she stated.

Keizer-Beache noted that the medication is sourced through the Pan American Health Organizations (PAHO) Zika response plan and is delivered with 36 hours upon request.

She also added that since there might be more cases of GBS, the Ministry of Health is seeking to have more medication on hand.

“We have sufficient in-house to manage the cases that we have on hand, but we are seeking to have an additional amount so that we cut down the time between diagnosis and treatment.”

The CMO also explained that patients can also be treated with plasmapheresis, which is “basically almost filtering out the blood.”

Keizer-Beache also disclosed that since the recent case of GBS was diagnosed here, the interest in the illness has peaked.

Keizer-Beache stressed that the reality is that GBS is here and there is a distinct link between Zika and GBS.

She noted that when the Ministry’s youth volunteers are dispersed in the near future, they will educate the public on both microcephaly and GBS.

The CMO said while the ministry does not want to cause panic among the public, it is their responsibility to remind persons that everyone is susceptible to Zika and the possibility of GBS.

She again stressed the importance of decreasing the number of mosquitoes around our homes and workplaces to reduce the chances of being infected with the Zika virus, which will reduce one’s likeliness of suffering from GBS.

Keizer-Beache also recommended the use of insect repellent with Deet and wearing long-sleeved tops and long pants or skirts as much as possible. (CM)

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