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Report New Cases of Guillain-Barré After H1N1 Flu Vaccine

Posted Oct 14 2009 10:02pm
From Medscape Medical News
Allison Gandey

September 1, 2009 — Neurologists should be vigilant in tracking any new cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome after patients have received the H1N1 flu vaccine, say officials. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make sure doctors remain alert.

Guillain-Barré has been linked to several vaccines, including the preparation for the 1976 swine flu. In a statement issued by the AAN, experts said that although they do not expect the 2009 H1N1 vaccine to increase the risk for the autoimmune disease, this is a concern with any pandemic vaccine. "The active participation of neurologists is going to be critical for monitoring for any possible increase in Guillain-Barré following 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination," AAN spokesperson Orly Avitzur, MD, said in a news release.

The H1N1 vaccine is currently in production. High-risk groups will be encouraged to receive the vaccine this fall. Infants, children, young adults, pregnant women, adults 25 years and older with underlying health conditions, and healthcare workers are considered good candidates for the vaccine.

Doctors are being asked to report adverse events using the standard CDC and US Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Guillain-Barré affects 1 to 4 people per 100,000 annually around the world. It causes respiratory failure requiring ventilation in an estimated 25% of people, and between 4% and 15% die.

The AAN guidelines on the treatment of Guillain-Barré are available online.
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