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Zika Virus Linked to Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, a Disorder That Can Be Confused with MS

April 11, 2016

A small study released today reports that of 151 Brazillian people infected with the Zika virus who developed neurological symptoms, six had neurologic symptoms consistent with disorders involving an immune attack on the myelin that insulates nerve fibers. No one has been reported to develop MS from Zika viral infection. The Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
Four of these six people developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that involves myelin in the peripheral nervous system, outside the brain and spinal cord. Guillain-Barre had previously been linked to the Zika virus. Two people in the study developed Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which has not been linked to Zika until now. ADEM is a brief but intense attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin, and can be difficult to distinguish from MS because of common symptoms (loss of vision, weakness, numbness and loss of balance).
This study is being presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which will take place in Vancouver, BC, Canada, April 15-21. The National MS Society will be providing reports summarizing studies. Anyone can get a preview of the technical summaries, or abstracts, of presentations to be given at the meeting at this link, free of charge.
Read more about this study on Science Daily

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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