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Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a disorder where a patient’s immune system begins to attack the peripheral nervous system. GBS can be triggered by vaccinations such as the influenza vaccine, tetanus shot, Hepatitis B vaccine, the Menactra® (MCV4) vaccine, the Gardasil® vaccine, and other vaccinations. The symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome typically start within one day to several weeks after a vaccination, but usually peaks around 2 weeks after the shot is given. However, medical literature suggests that patients are more susceptible up to ten (10) weeks after vaccination. Guillain Barre Syndrome can be generally described as a type of Peripheral Neuropathy. The chronic version of GBS is known as Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy or CIDP.
Your chances of getting Guillain Barré Syndrome after a flu shot are extremely low, but it’s not uncommon. Researchers who studied vaccine reaction rates found that “GBS is more strongly associated with vaccination for influenza” than for any other vaccine. The Journal of the American Medical Association cites Guillain Barré as the most frequent neurological condition reported after getting the flu shot. But the flu shot isn’t the only vaccine that may lead to GBS.
There may be evidence that the Gardasil® vaccine, also known as the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination, can trigger Guillain Barré Syndrome. This vaccine is commonly given to prevent cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control reports that “Guillain Barré has been reported after vaccination with Gardasil®.” Other studies show that 72% of patients who reported GBS symptoms after a Gardasil® vaccine experienced those symptoms within 6 weeks after their shot.
The first symptom of Guillain Barre Syndrome is often weakness or tingling in the legs. Those sensations can spread to the arms and upper body until the victim becomes paralyzed. GBS can cause such severe muscle weakness that patients must be put on a ventilator to breathe. Guillain Barre Syndrome is considered an autoimmune disorder because the body’s immune system attacks its own nervous system, damaging the coating around nerves.
Complete recovery from Guillain Barre Syndrome does occur, but often it is a long and painful road of therapy and treatment. Unfortunately, some GBS patients end up with severe disabilities that will last throughout their lives. In rare cases, patients can die from GBS.
A number of different Guillain Barre Syndrome variants have been identified. Some of the most common are listed below:
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learn more at GBS-CIDP Foundation