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Las Vegas woman says flu shot sent husband to the ICU

Rare disorder called 'GBS'
Posted at 2:18 AM, Nov 20, 2018

A Las Vegas woman says the flu shot sent her husband to the ICU.  

Monique Morgan says her husband Shane had the flu shot on Nov. 2.

"36 hours afterwards, he developed flu-like symptoms," said Morgan.  

More than a week later on Nov. 14, Morgan says her husband asked for help.

"He's like I can't feel my legs... I need you to take me to the emergency room," said Morgan.

Shane has been hospitalized for six days. A medical professional says this could be a rare disorder that's been linked to the flu vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

GBS can cause symptoms that usually last for a few weeks. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some people have long-term nerve damage. In very rare cases, people have died of GBS, usually from difficulty breathing. In the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS each year.

"In all my years of practice, I had only seen one case of this," said Dr. Daliah Wachs. 

Wachs, who is not treating Shane, spoke with us about GBS.

"You can't get that from a flu shot," said Dr. Wachs. "A flu shot will not inject anything into you, Guillain-Barré is your body's response to a flu shot or a pathogen."

Dr. Wachs says if you have a history of GBS, talk to your doctor.  But medical professionals still urge the general public to get vaccinated.  

"We don't want anyone scared to get the flu shot because the flu shot saves lives," she said. "I've seen more GBS from people getting the flu than from people getting the flu shot."

While she waits for her husband to recover, Morgan says her goal is to educate the public about this disorder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the exact cause of GBS is unknown, but about two-thirds of people who develop GBS experience symptoms several days or weeks after they have been sick with diarrhea or a respiratory illness.

Infection with the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common risk factors for GBS. People also can develop GBS after having the flu or other infections (such as cytomegalovirus and Epstein Barr virus). On very rare occasions, they may develop GBS in the days or weeks after getting a vaccination.