Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome

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Jamie Kellerman Elaine Bruschwig, PH.D. Microbiology 2500 19 February 2010 Case History #1 When you arrived at work in the intensive care unit this morning, you learned that a patient with Guillain-Barre’ syndrome had been admitted. He is a 45-year old poultry farmer. He is on a respirator and has bilateral paralysis of his legs. 1. What is Guillain-Barre’ syndrome? Explain in detail. Is Guillain-Barre’ syndrome often fatal? Guillain-Barre’ syndrome is an auto immune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). A person’s own immune system attacks the myelin sheath that surrounds the axon of the nerves. Once the myelin sheath is damaged, the nerves cannot transmit signals properly. Nerve damage leads to muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbing or tingling of the hands and feet. This is caused by the muscles loss of ability to respond to the brains commands. GBS is not often fatal but in rare cases people have died from GBS. GBS can be fatal if the respiratory muscles become paralyzed, making it difficult to breathe. GBS can also be fatal if blood pressure and heart rate are affected. 2. What leads to Guillain-Barre’ syndrome? What would you look for in the patient’s history? The cause of Guillain-Barre’ syndrome is uncertain. GBS is triggered one to two weeks after a viral or bacterial infection. These infections are usually infections of the lungs or stomach and intestines. Infection with the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni is the most common. Campylobacter jejuni causes food poisoning. A few other infections that trigger GBS include: Mycoplasma, which causes pneumonia; Cytomegalovirus, which causes fever, chills, sore throat, swollen glands, body aches, and fatigue; Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis and Varicella-zoster

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