HealthDay News — Within a series of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) patients, 22% had confirmed or probable SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to a study published in Brain.

Linda W G Luijten, from Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational cohort study enrolling patients with GBS within 2 weeks from onset of weakness in an international study. Data from patients enrolled between January 30, 2020, and May 30, 2020, were used to examine clinical and laboratory signs of a preceding or concurrent SARS-CoV-2 infection and to describe the associated clinical phenotype and disease course.

The researchers included 49 patients with GBS, of whom 8 and 3 (16% and 6%) had a confirmed and a probable SARS-CoV-2 infection, respectively. Nine of these patients had no serological evidence of other recent preceding infections, while 2 had evidence of a recent Campylobacter jejuni infection. A sensorimotor variant was seen in 73% of the 11 patients, and facial palsy was seen in 64%. All 8 patients who underwent electrophysiological examination had a demyelinating subtype; this was more prevalent than among other patients in the same time window (47%) and historical controls before the pandemic (52%). From onset of infection to neurological symptoms was a median of 16 days.

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“Our study shows that COVID-19 may precede Guillain-Barré syndrome in rare cases,” a coauthor said in a statement, “but the existence of a true association or causal relation still needs to be established.”

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