A couple of folks from the CDC have been in Arizona this week to help us (and Sonora) to investigate an unusual number of cases (8 in Arizona and 8 in Sonora) of Guillain Barre syndrome

.  The Arizona cases are in the Yuma area.  It’s a rare condition that rarely (but occasionally) happens several days after a person has been sick with diarrhea- often from a foodborne bacteria called Campylobacter jejuni.  The illness happens when person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.  Most people recover fully from it but some people have nerve damage that doesn’t go away.

Our epidemiology team is working with folks from the CDC and Yuma County to track down the cause.  Most of the work is gumshoe type epidemiology and includes reviewing medical records to confirm diagnoses meeting with hospital staff and neurologists to discuss clinical signs and symptoms (they have already reviewed 3 records and are currently reviewing a fourth case at a second hospital), and interviewing patients and family members to determine exposure history, particularly related to foodborne illnesses.