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Peru declares emergency after increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome cases

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The Peruvian government on Saturday declared a nationwide medical emergency for at least 90 days as officials still grapple with the unusually high number of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) cases. The nation has seen 182 cases since June 2023, out of which 147 are discharged, 31 are hospitalised and 4 have died.

GBS is a rare auto-immune disorder that affects the nerves and the muscles of the body. This disorder causes weakness in muscles but is so dangerous that it can cause paralysis or even death in severe cases. The origin of GBS is still not known but patients report symptoms of the infection in the preceding six weeks. There are also no cures for the syndrome but treatments are focused on limiting or reducing the symptoms and reducing the severity and duration of the illness.

“The damage prevents the nerves from sending certain information, such as touch sensations, to the spinal cord and brain. This causes a feeling of numbness. In addition, the brain and spinal cord can no longer transmit signals back to the body, leading to muscle weakness,” Medical News Today (MNT) says.

The health emergency comes after the recommendation of the Peruvian health minister César Vásquez last Wednesday, noting that an increase in the number of cases could also mean a lack in immunoglobulin.

The Peruvian government in its official statement has said that 103 cases were reported until June 23 and the “average monthly number of cases was less than 20 cases per month at the national level” (less than that reported in years prior to the 2019 outbreak).

The decree by President Dina Boluarte also states that around $3.27 million will be allocated to improving patient care, reinforcing control on the number of detections, and drafting reports for the population and health personnel.

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