Guillain-Barre (“GB”) disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by nerve damage, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and paralysis. U.S. and Canadian studies suggest that recipients of the 2009 H1N1 (“swine flu”) vaccine are at a heightened risk of developing GB.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome may include:
- Prickling, “pins and needles” sensations in your fingers, toes or both
- Weakness or tingling sensations in your legs that spread to your upper body
- Unsteady walking or inability to walk
- Difficulty with eye movement, facial movement, speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Severe pain in your lower back
- Difficulty with bladder control or intestinal functions
- Rapid heart rate
- Low or high blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
The recent Canadian study tracked newly-diagnosed cases of GB that occurred within six months of the first H1N1 vaccinations in Quebec. This sample was determined to be credible considering over half of Quebec’s 7.1 million residents received the H1N1 vaccination. Researchers identified 83 new GB cases; of those diagnosed with GB, 25 had been vaccinated against H1N1 within the previous eight weeks. The researchers noted that the increased risk of developing GB was likely restricted to those 50 years of age or older.
The Canadian findings were found to be “fairly consistent” with U.S. H1N1 vaccination studies done in 2009.