On Sunday, June 9, Peruvian authorities declared a 90-day health emergency in five regions - including Junín, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura, and Lima - due to an ongoing outbreak of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Some 206 cases of the disease had been reported as of June 9 in addition to four associated deaths, including two in Piura region and one each in La Libertad and Junín regions.
Further spread of the outbreak is possible over the coming weeks.
Initial symptoms of GBS include numbness and tingling as well as back and muscle pain, followed by weakness in the extremities that progressively worsens over the course of days or weeks. If left untreated, GBS can lead to paralysis and cardiac arrest. While the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, many cases are identified after individuals report diarrhea or a respiratory infection; according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), GBS is "strongly associated" with the Zika virus.
Symptoms of Zika virus disease - fever, headache (behind the eyes), conjunctivitis, rash, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain - can appear two to seven days after contracting the disease, although the virus is asymptomatic in approximately 80 percent of cases. In addition to spreading via mosquitoes, the transmission of the virus is also possible via sexual intercourse.
Individuals in Peru are advised to consult a medical professional if presenting the abovementioned symptoms, take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites (e.g. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping under mosquito-netting or in an air-conditioned room), and eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds (e.g. small pockets of fresh water, such as rainwater that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.).
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