Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a potentially-serious medical condition that remains subject to scientific study. The exact cause of GBS remains unknown and there is currently no known cure; however, researchers are continuing to explore causal factors and treatment options to prevent relapses in those who have been diagnosed.
Potential Causes of Guillain Barre Syndrome
To date, doctors have identified four primary factors that are known precursors to patients contracting Guillain Barre Syndrome. These are:
- Viral Infections – Physicians have identified a relationship between certain types of viral infections and Guillain Barre Syndrome. For example, patients with cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are all at greater risk for contracting GBS.
- Bacterial Infections – Food poisoning (resulting from a Campylobacter bacteria infection) has also been linked to GBS. Certain other respiratory and digestive tract infections may be risk factors for GBS as well.
- Surgery – In some cases, doctors have noted GBS being triggered by surgery. However, surgery is currently believed to be among the least-common causal factors.
- Certain Vaccinations – Increasingly, instances of GBS are being linked to certain vaccinations. In particular, the flu shot and tetanus vaccines (including DTaP, Tdap, DT and Td) are now widely-recognized as having the potential to lead to GBS.
Treatment Options for Guillain Barre Syndrome
Since there is no known cure for Guillain Barre Syndrome, treatment focuses on relieving patients’ symptoms while reducing the likelihood of relapses over time. Currently, the two primary forms of treatment for GBS are:
- Plasma Exchange Therapy (Plasmapheresis) – Plasmapheresis is a process that involves separating the plasma from a patient’s blood cells and then removing the plasma from the patient’s body so that new, clean plasma can take its place. The goal with plasma exchange therapy is to eliminate harmful antibodies that reside in the plasma in order to mitigate the body’s autoimmune response.
- Immunoglobulin Therapy – While plasma exchange therapy focuses on eliminating harmful antibodies from the body, immunoglobulin therapy focuses on flooding the blood stream with healthy antibodies in order to fight the patient’s GBS. Research indicates that immunoglobulin therapy is equally effective as plasma exchange.
However, as we reported earlier this year, efforts are currently underway to obtain FDA approval for a third form of GBS treatment. Researchers believe that eculizumab, a drug approved in 2007 for treatment of certain autoimmune disorders, may also be effective for treating GBS. Like plasma exchange and immunoglobulin therapy, eculizumab would not be a cure, but rather a tool for mitigating the symptoms and risks for individuals living with GBS.
Get Help Covering the Costs of Treatment for Vaccine-Related GBS
Under the federal government’s National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), financial compensation is available to individuals who have been diagnosed with GBS after receiving a flu shot or tetanus vaccination. At the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, we provide no-cost legal representation for flu-GBS compensation claims nationwide. If you have GBS and would like to find out if you may have a claim under the VICP, call (202) 800-1711 or contact us online to speak with vaccine injury lawyer Leah Durant today.
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Experienced vaccine injury attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.