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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Outbreak of GBS in Guatemala is Waning


The Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization have become involved in an investigation of an extensive outbreak of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) in Guatemala.  A total of 87 cases have been documented with five fatalities localized in two regions in the nation.  The first cases were detected in November 2023 ceasing in early March.


GBS is an infrequent sequel of campylobacteriosis affecting approximately one in 1,000 cases.  The condition is characterized by muscular weakness extending to paralysis and is attributed to an autoimmune response against nerve tissue stimulated by antigens produced by a specific strain of Campylobacter jejuni.  GBS usually occurs within weeks of an acute gastroenteritis characterized by bloody diarrhea.  An initial investigation of the Guatemala cases disclosed deficiencies in food preparation and in personal hygiene leading to campylobacteriosis.


Health officials in Guatemala are continuing their epidemiologic investigations and motivating acceptable practices in food preparation.


There is low prevalence of GBS among those recovering from campylobacteriosis estimated at 1 in 1,000 cases. Unfortunately the consequences of the condition justify suppression of Campylobacter jejuni through the entire production chain of poultry meat considered to be a major vehicle of infection. At this time there is no effective pre-harvest method to prevent intestinal colonization of flocks.  Fortunately, post-harvest measures including chlorination and other approved additives to spin chiller water and carcass washes lowering levels of Salmonella will also reduce the extent of surface contamination with Campylobacter.  Thorough cooking destroys foodborne non-spore forming bacterial pathogens. 

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