Zika Virus and GBS

The GBS|CIDP Foundation International and its Global Medical Advisory Board are closely monitoring the suspected link between the Zika virus and the onset of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



It appears from Brazilian researchers and neurologists that the preliminary media reports might be somewhat misleading on this link as the actual cases of GBS that can be clearly linked to preceding Zika virus infection have been small when attempts have been made to better clarify the relationship by skilled clinical neurologists. As of this time we do not have enough evidence to make this type of estimate.

Susceptibility to Zika virus is a function of mosquito exposure in endemic areas, and has nothing to do with having had prior GBS; 80% of patients infected with the Zika virus have no symptoms, and the remainder develop a benign viral syndrome manifest by fever, aches and pains, headache, rash and conjunctivitis that resolves over 7-11 days. Having had a prior episode of GBS should have no bearing on the risk of Zika infection.

Patients should be directed to the CDC website for the most current travel recommendations. There is, as of now, no proven association between a history of prior GBS and developing recurrent GBS upon traveling to an endemic area, as the exact relationship between the Zika virus and any trigger to a first episode of GBS has yet to be scientifically substantiated. Pregnant women (regardless of prior GBS status) are strongly discouraged from traveling to the affected regions.

Foundation Sponsored Resources

Our Global Medical Advisory Board Chairman, Dr. Ken Gorson, helps us understand the latest information on the Zika Virus and its relationship to Guillain-Barre´ Syndrome via PolyNeuroExchange. (October 13th, 2016)

Global Medical Advisory Board Chairman, Dr. Ken Gorson comments for the NYTimes. (September 6th, 2016)

Zika poses serious health threat (July 26th, 2016)

GBS|CIDP Foundation International Press Release

Congressman John Garamendi, Champion for GBS and Zika in the US Congress (Feb 29, 2016)

Congressman Garamendi recently released this “Dear Colleague” letter to help raise awareness and support of our conditions and the services we provide in the wake of the Zika crisis.

Foundation Global Medical Advisory Board member, Ken Gorson quoted on Zika (Feb 21, 2016)

This article discusses the increase in the incidence rate of GBS within some Latin American countries tied to Zika.

Incidence of Guillain-Barré Syndrome Rising As Zika Spreads (Feb 8, 2016)

This interview with a member of the GBS|CIDP Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board addresses the signs and symptoms of GBS and its possible link to Zika.

GBS|CIDP Foundation International Press Release (Feb 4, 2016)

GBS|CIDP Foundation International Press Release (Jan 26, 2016)

Additional Resources


Provides resources on neurological conditions associated with Zika virus infection. We provide information on the neurological assessment of patients, including guidelines on neurological conditions associated with Zika virus infection. We will be updating the information on a weekly basis, and hope this serves as a useful resource for healthcare providers around the world. The site can be viewed in Spanish and Portuguese.

BBC World News Radio Zika and GBS (audio only) (Feb 29, 2016)

Featuring comments from Foundation Board Member, Jim Crone

Guillain-Barré Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study (Feb 29, 2016)

A scientific article that explores the link between Zika and GBS by studying the Zika outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013-2014.

NYT: New Study Links Zika Virus to Temporary Paralysis (Feb 29, 2016)

A layman’s interpretation of the article above, using research from the Zika outbreak in French Polynesia as a case study.

NPR: New Study Makes The Case For A Zika Virus Link To Guillain-Barre (Feb 29, 2016)

Additional explanation of the results of the French Polynesia study.

Zika virus could trigger paralyzing Guillain–Barré syndrome, study says (Feb 29, 2016)

Additional explanation of the results of the French Polynesia study, featuring comments by Foundation Medical Advisory Board Member, Dr. Kenneth Gorson.

BBC: Study shows Zika ‘might cause’ Guillain-Barré syndrome (Feb 29, 2016)

New research gives the first evidence that Zika virus might cause a severe neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome.

WHO Situation Report: Zika virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (Feb 26, 2016)

During 2015 and 2016, eight countries and territories have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases.

WHO Identification and management of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the context of Zika virus Interim guidance (Feb 25, 2016)

This document aims to provide interim guidance on the case definition of GBS and strategies to manage the syndrome, in the context of Zika virus and its potential association with GBS.

Guillain-Barre syndrome and Zika: Is there a connection? (Feb 22, 2016)

Officials with the World Health Organization are exploring a possible link between Zika virus and a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Neurological Manifestations of Zika Virus Infection: What Neurologists Need to Know (Feb 17, 2016)

A more clinical article that states that the trouble in defining the Zika & GBS link results because because by the time a GBS patient presents with symptoms, the Zika virus has already left the patient’s system and doesn’t leave enough traces to verify the link.

WHO Zika Situation Report (Feb 19, 2016)

Six countries/territories (Brazil, French Polynesia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Suriname) have reported an increase in the incidence of cases of microcephaly and/or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) following a Zika virus outbreak.

Paralysis syndrome rises along with Zika cases (Feb 15, 2016)

A brief article summarizing the rise of GBS with Zika.

WHO Update on GBS in Brazil (Feb 8, 2016)

This report outlines the increases in the incidence of GBS across Brazil since November 2015 and the efforts being carried out to help.

WHO Zika Update (January 2016)

This fact sheet from the World Health Organization outlines some basic information on the Zika virus including signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

CDC Zika Resources (February 2016)

The Center for Disease Control has compiled a variety of resources related to Zika including the areas affected, prevention strategies, disease information, and Q&As.

White House Fact Sheet: Preparing for and Responding to the Zika Virus at Home and Abroad (Feb 8, 2016)

The White House is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus, including resources for improving Guillain Barré syndrome tracking, both domestically and internationally.

WHO Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) Statement (Feb 1, 2016)

The Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 1 February 2016 regarding clusters of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders in some areas affected by Zika virus.

Rapid Risk Assessment Document from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control about Zika virus and GBS (Jan 21, 2016)

This document assesses the risks associated with the evolving Zika virus epidemic currently affecting some countries in the Americas, including the risk for travellers to the affected areas and populations in the affected EU outermost regions. Several countries in south and central Americas have reported unusual increases in cases of Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS).

European Hemophilia Consortium Zika Virus Position Statement (Feb 4, 2016)There has been an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome probably related to an immune response to the virus. The European Haemophilia Consortium (EHC) is monitoring this situation.