An acute disorder of spinal nerve roots, probably immunological in origin, occurring as a complication of other conditions, such as viral infections, characterized by paralysis of peripheral muscles, often ascending from the legs through the trunk to the upper limbs and occasionally extending to respiratory and facial muscles. The condition mostly affects motor nerve roots, but there is often some accompanying sensory loss. Progression may continue for some weeks, followed by a period of stability and usually a slow recovery. It was thought to be an adverse reaction to vaccination, notably anti-influenza vaccine against swine influenza in 1976 in the United States, but reanalysis of the data suggested that the number affected could have occurred by chance, rather than as a consequence of vaccination. The eponym honors the French neurologists Jean Barré (1880–1971) and Georges Guillain (1876–1961). Further information is available at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/gbs.htm.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.