A rare infection that can paralyze and sicken, have affected 24 people in an area across the Arizona-Mexico border, said authorities on Tuesday.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) normally affects only about one in 100,000 people. It caught the attention of the health officials on both -sides when 24 cases were reported.
Twenty-four cases of the rare Guillain-Barre Syndrome in Yuma County in far western Arizona and neighboring San Luis Rio Colorado, in Mexico's northern Sonora state were reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The condition causes muscle weakness and a creeping numbness in the arms and legs, leading in some cases to paralysis, respiratory problems and even death.
“Local, state and federal health departments from San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico and Yuma County, Arizona, U.S. started working to confirm the diagnosis and search for the underlying cause of the disease,” the official Web site of the Arizona Department of Health Services stated. Of the 24 cases recorded so far, 17 were diagnosed in Mexico, and seven in Arizona.
“We recognize that this apparent cluster of Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases is of great concern to the community,” said Shoana Anderson, Office Chief of Infectious Disease at ADHS. “One potential cause we’ve identified is Campylobacter bacteria, a commonly-identified organism that can precede Guillain-Barré. While there have been more cases of Campylobacter this year, we have not yet positively confirmed that it is responsible for these Guillain-Barré infections."
An outreach and education program has been conducted by health officials from Sonora for the residents in the San Luis Rio Colorado area. Arizona health officials have asked doctors and hospitals to watch for the signs of Guillain-Barre Syndrome and quickly contact their local health office.
The official website said, GBS is not passed from person to person, and the best thing for people to do at this point is to prevent infections in the first place. Hence, guidelines on washing hands frequently and keeping them clean have been given by the health officials.