Incidence of Guillain-BarréSyndrome (GBS) in Latin America and the Caribbean before and during the 2015-2016 Zika virus epidemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ariadna Capasso, Danielle C. Ompad, Dorice L. Vieira, Annelies Wilder-Smith, Yesim Tozan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background A severe neurological disorder, Guillain-Barrésyndrome (GBS) is the leading cause of acute flaccid paralysis. Enhanced surveillance of GBS in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) following the 2015-2016 Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic presents an opportunity to estimate, for the first time, the regional incidence of GBS. Methods and findings For this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched nine scientific databases and grey literature from January 1, 1980 to October 1, 2018. Sources with primary data on incident GBS cases in LAC within a well-defined population and timeframe, published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French, were included. We calculated the annual GBS incidence rates (IRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for each source based on published data. Following an assessment of heterogeneity, we used random-effects meta-analysis to calculate the pooled annual IR of GBS. The study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42018086659. Of the 6568 initial citation hits, 31 were eligible for inclusion. Background annual GBS IRs in Latin America ranged from 0.40 in Brazil to 2.12/100,000 in Chile. The pooled annual IR in the Caribbean was 1.64 (95% CI 1.29-2.12, I2<0.01, p = 0.44). During the ZIKV epidemic, GBS IRs ranged from 0.62 in Mexico to 9.35/100,000 in Martinique. GBS increased 2.6 (95% CI 2.3-2.9) times during ZIKV and 1.9 (95% CI 1.1- 3.4) times during chikungunya outbreaks over background rates. A limitation of this review is that the studies included employed different methodologies to find and ascertain cases of GBS, which could contribute to IR heterogeneity. In addition, it is important to consider that data on GBS are lacking for many countries in the region. Conclusions Background IRs of GBS appear to peak during arboviral disease outbreaks. The current review contributes to an understanding of the epidemiology of GBS in the LAC region, which can inform healthcare system planning and preparedness, particularly during arboviral epidemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0007622
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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