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Lima, July 11 – Peru has declared a national health emergency for a period of 90 calendar days, over an outbreak of Guillain-Barre syndrome — a rare neurological disorder, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
“So far we have controlled the disease. Guillain Barre appears every year and there has been a significant increase in recent weeks that forces us to take actions as a State to protect the health and life of the population,” Health Minister Cesar Vasquez was quoted as saying by Outbreak News reported.
To date, a total of 182 GBS cases have been reported. Of these, 31 patients are hospitalised and 147 have been discharged; and four deaths occurred in January, March and May.
GBS is often followed by a bacterial or viral infection that wreaks havoc on the nerves. In people afflicted with GBS, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, leading to weakness and, sometimes, paralysis, or even death.
The country on June 27, had also issued an epidemiological alert to intensify prevention, surveillance and response action for the neurological disorder.
The national emergency approved by the country’s Council of Ministers, will allow the purchase of immunoglobulin for the treatment of GBS patients for up to the next two years, the Minister said.
A budget of $3.27 million has also been allocated by President Dina Boluarte to tackle the autoimmune disease, which includes an action plan to improve patient care, reinforce control on case detections, and prepare informative material for the people and health care personnel.
It also includes arrangements for air-assisted transport of patients, acquisition of intravenous immunoglobulin and human albumin and arrangements for specialised diagnosis of the biological agents.
Meanwhile the Health Ministry is also providing information or guidance on Guillain Barre to the population through the telephone line — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the report said.
There is no cure for the disease, and the symptoms such as weakness and a tingling sensation or loss of sensation usually start in both legs and then move up to the arms can be controlled.
The symptoms of GBS can last for weeks and most people make a full recovery, however, some patients are left with sequelae.