June 25, 2020 -- The first official U.S. case of Guillain-Barré syndrome associated with COVID-19 has been reported by neurologists from Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, further supporting a link between the virus and neurologic complications.
As previously reported by Medscape Medical News, doctors in China reported the first case of COVID-19 that doctors at first thought was Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS. The patient was a 61-year-old woman returning home from Wuhan during the pandemic.
Doctors in Italy later reported five cases of GBS associated with COVID-19.
The first U.S. case is described in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Neuromuscular Disease.
Like cases from China and Italy, the U.S. patient's symptoms of GBS reportedly occurred within days after he was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The 54-year-old man was transferred to Allegheny General Hospital after having limb weakness and numbness that followed symptoms of a respiratory infection. Two weeks earlier, he had a stuffy nose, pain when swallowing, fevers, chills, and night sweats.
The man said his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 and that his symptoms started soon after her illness. The man also tested positive for COVID-19.
He did not have the loss of smell and taste seen in other COVID-19 patients.
He briefly required mechanical ventilation.
"Although the number of documented cases internationally is notably small to date, it's not completely surprising that a COVID-19 diagnosis may lead to a patient developing GBS. The increase of inflammation and inflammatory cells caused by the infection may trigger an irregular immune response that leads to the hallmark symptoms of this neurological disorder," Sandeep Rana, MD, first author of the journal report, said in a news release.
"Since GBS can significantly affect the respiratory system and other vital organs being pushed into overdrive during a COVID-19 immune response, it will be critically important to further investigate and understand this potential connection," he said.