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More Nepalis suffering from rare Guillain-Barré syndrome

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Friday, March 22, 2019

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KATHMANDU, Nepal - Many in Nepal may not have heard of Guillain-Barré syndrome, but this rare disorder, which eventually causes paralysis, is being diagnosed in more and more people in the country.

The government does not have data on the number of people suffering from this syndrome, but doctors that THT talked to said nearly 150 people contract this disorder every year. "This is unofficial data. More people may have been affected by this syndrome, which is diagnosed in one person per 100,000 people globally," said Dr Suman Bhattarai, neurologist at Upendra Devkota Memorial National Institute of Neurological and Allied Sciences.

More and more people are contracting this disorder because of poor sanitation and consumption of unhygienic food and contaminated water, according to Dr Bhattarai.

The root cause of the syndrome is campylobacter jejuni, a subfamily of bacteria that causes food poisoning and diarrhoea. Summer is the peak season when Nepalis are diagnosed with this syndrome, Dr Bhattarai said. "And most of the patients are from the Tarai."

The first symptoms of the syndrome include weakness or tingling sensations in the legs, which gradually spread to arms and face, according to the World Health Organisation. These tingling sensations can later paralyse legs, arms or face muscles. It may also affect chest muscles, making it hard for people to breathe.

As the syndrome starts hitting the nervous system, those affected may not be able to speak and swallow.

"The syndrome can be treated if detected early," said Dr Bhattarai, adding, "Nearly 30 people with this syndrome visit our hospital."

But patients in last stages have very little chances of survival because the disorder rapidly erodes immunity, Dr Bhattarai added. In Nepal, five out of 100 people diagnosed with the syndrome die, according to Dr Bhattarai.

Most of the hospitals in Nepal, including public hospitals like Bir, treat this syndrome, said doctors.

Source: The Himalayan Times
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