Corine H. GeurtsvanKessel, Zhahirul Islam, Md. Badrul Islam, Sandra Kamga, Nowshin Papri, David A. M. C. van de Vijver, Chantal Reusken, Ramona Mogling, Astrid P. Heikema, Israt Jahan, Florence K. Pradel, Rebecca L. Pavlicek, Quazi D. Mohammad, Marion P. G. Koopmans, Bart C. Jacobs, Hubert P. Endtz
Objective: Previous studies have associated Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) with Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks in South America and Oceania. In Asia, ZIKV is known to circulate widely, but the association with Guillain–Barré syndrome is unclear. We investigated whether endemic ZIKV infection is associated with the development of GBS. Methods: A prospective study was conducted from 2011 to 2015 in Bangladesh. A total of 418 patients and 418 healthy family controls were included in the study. Patients were diagnosed with GBS prior to inclusion according to established criteria. Detailed information on the epidemiology, clinical presentation, electrophysiology, diagnosis, disease severity, and clinical course were obtained during a follow‐up of 1 year using a predefined protocol. Results: ZIKV‐neutralizing antibodies were detected in our study from 2013 onwards. The prevalence of ZIKV‐neutralizing antibodies was not significantly higher in patients with GBS compared to healthy controls (OR 2.23, P = 0.14, 95% CI 0.77–6.53). Serological evidence for prior ZIKV infection in patients with GBS was associated with more frequent cranial, sensory, and autonomic nerve involvement compared to GBS patients with Campylobacter jejuni, the predominant preceding infection in GBS worldwide. Nerve‐conduction studies revealed that ZIKV antibodies were associated with a demyelinating subtype of GBS, while C. jejuni infections were related to an axonal subtype. Interpretation: No significant association was found between ZIKV infection and GBS in Bangladesh, but GBS following ZIKV infection was characterized by a distinct clinical and electrophysiological subtype compared to C. jejuni infection. These findings indicate that ZIKV may precede a specific GBS subtype but the risk is low.