Research on Guillain Barré associated with Zika launched in Barranquilla, Colombia

Barranquilla was chosen for the implementation of the intensified surveillance project of the neurological syndromes associated with Zika.

In 2016, after learning that neurological syndromes would be associated with Zika, the National Institute of Health (INS), together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), started a case-control study in 50 patients with neurological alterations and with history of Zika virus. This characterization became the first phase of the Intensified Surveillance Project of Zika Associated Neurological Syndromes in Colombia 2017 (VIN), which was presented on May 3, 2017.

"Colombia has been one of the few countries that has made great efforts to understand the association of Zika virus with Guillain-Barré," said Dr. Ermias Belay, Associate Director of Science for the Division of Pathogens of High Consequence and Pathology at CDC. "And that is why this first effort made by the Secretary of Health of Barranquilla cannot be lost," he added.

Now, a second phase will be started in order to improve the knowledge of this event and to know the neurological and functional status of the identified patients within one year, where doubts will be solved for the science that Zika has raised and its adverse effects. The project is to be managed in Colombia by Dr. José Israel Galindo Buitrago with support from TEPHINET as implementing partner.

"We are concerned about Zika's consequences. We have a historical moment and responsibility to study a disease that is not written anywhere and that rewrites the history of the infectious diseases, for that reason the great effort that we are doing to understand this event", said Dr. Martha Lucía Ospina, General Director of the INS, at the launch of the project.

It is noteworthy that in parallel to the Zika Pregnancy Surveillance Project (ZEZ), Zika in Pregnant and Children (ZEN) and now the VIN, the projects will be of great contribution to the medical-scientific community vis-à-vis Zika and its implications for public health. "We are very grateful to the National Institute of Health for always taking into account to work hand in hand for the health benefits not only of Colombia but the world for the knowledge that can be generated from this research," concluded Alma Solano, Secretary of Health of the District of Barranquilla.