GENEVA: A study published this week was the strongest piece of evidence yet that that the Zika virus causes the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but more research was needed, the UN said Friday.
The deputy chief of the World Health Organization, Bruce Aylward, said the study from the medical journal Lancet which focused on a small sample of people in French Polynesia provided compelling evidence that Zika triggers the syndrome.
“This is the strongest evidence so far that this may be a causal relationship,” Aylward told journalists, referring to Zika’s link to GBS, which causes paralysis and even death in extreme cases.
But, he said, WHO needed to see similar studies replicated in other areas with the same findings. Aylward added that evidence had also “continued to accumulate” in multiple studies linking Zika to microcephaly, a serious birth defect in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain.
Zika, which is spreading rapidly in the Americas, is usually no more harmful than a bad cold or mild flu, but global anxiety about the mosquito-borne virus has been driven by its probable link to microcephaly and GBS.