REPORTS are emerging out of Brazil, that a second rare illness may be linked to the outbreak of the Zika virus (ZIKV) spread by the Aedesaegypti mosquito.
Health officials across the region including Jamaica have warned that the virus could be linked to microcephaly, a brain defect resulting in babies being born with unusually small heads.
However, the New York Times newspaper is reporting that Brazilian officials and doctors are warning about hundreds of cases of a rare syndrome in which patients can be almost completely paralyzed for weeks.
According to the report, disease specialists in Brazil say ZIKV may also be causing a surge in another rare condition, known as the Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
It is a potentially life-threatening syndrome in which a person’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system, leaving some patients unable to move and dependent on life support.
The New York Times says until recently, the condition was so rare that Brazil’s health ministry did not require regional officials to report it.
However, last year, the authorities in northeast Brazil, which was hit hardest by the Zika virus, counted hundreds of cases of GBS prompting doctors to raise alarm.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation says it is investigating whether an ongoing outbreak of ZIKV in El Salvador is linked to more than 40 cases of GBS recorded between December one last year and January 6 this year.
El Salvador usually records about 169 GBS cases annually.
The ZIKV outbreak there started in November and close to 4,000 cases have been recorded.
Jamaica has set aside $200 million to fund prevention campaigns and to procure new equipment and other resources to fight ZIKV.
Jamaica is yet to record any case of the virus although the disease has spread to more than 17 countries in the region including Haiti, Barbados, and Martinique.