Recently, doctors, patients, and physicians from around the world gathered in Orlando, Florida, to share knowledge about two debilitating diseases — Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP).
GBS and CIPD are very rare autoimmune diseases. In ever rarer cases GBS may result following a vaccination.
GBS is an autoimmune disease, wherein the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. Patients suffering from GBS develop symptoms slowly. Tingling and weakness may start in their legs and then spread to their upper body.
GBS patients usually have trouble with basic motor skills, such as talking, chewing, or controlling facial movements. Feelings of weakness can peak several days or weeks after the first symptom and occasionally lead to paralysis. The rate of recovery depends on the person, ranging from a few weeks to a few years.
First identified in 1859 , GBS came to national attention in the late 1970s. The United States had recently initiated the largest vaccine program in its history. Officials soon discovered an increase in the number of reported GBS cases. They began monitoring more closely for GBS and eventually uncovered 1,098 cases between October 1, 1976, and January 31, 1977, in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
The exact cause of GBS is unknown. The disease can strike people of any age and affects both sexes equally. Fortunately the disease is rare; it afflicts only one person in every 100,000.
In order to better understand the causes of GBS, the Inflammatory Neuropathy Consortium — an international organization of doctors dedicated to researching nerve diseases — has created the International Guillain-Barré Syndrome Outcome Study. To date, the project has enrolled more than 700 patients.
The good news is that there are treatments for those who suffer from GBS.
One common treatment for GBS is plasma exchange. Doctors take blood from a patient’s body and separate the plasma from the red and white blood cells. After the blood cells are returned to the body, the immune system creates new plasma. This procedure can reduce the severity and duration of GBS.
Another treatment is high-dose immunoglobulin therapy. Doctors inject patients with a protein already used by the body’s immune system to fight infections, which helps alleviate the symptoms of GBS.
CIDP’s symptoms are similar to those of GBS. General weakness develops slowly in the legs and eventually spreads to the arms. CIDP is more chronic than GBS but also less common; there are approximately 1.5-3.6 new cases of CIDP for every million people.
In addition to plasma exchange and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy, treatment for CIDP includes an anti-inflammatory prescription drug called Prednisone that can improve strength in patients.
Financial compensation is available for those who contract GBS or CIDP as a result of a vaccination.
In 1988, Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The Program covers many shots, but for the most up-to-date list, check out the vaccine injury table published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If you have experienced an adverse reaction such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or any other illness, subsequent to receiving a vaccine, please contact us today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.