Polio is an infectious disease caused by the Polio virus. It affects the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord and causes permanent paralysis. Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is an immune-mediated acute demyelinating disease causing predominately motor paralysis together with some sensory and autonomic manifestations. The key difference between Polio and Guillain Barre Syndrome is that Polio does not have a specific treatment whereas Guillain Barre Syndrome can be treated with intravenous human immunoglobulins or plasmapheresis.
What is Polio?
Polio is a viral infection caused by the Polio virus. It is transmitted via the feco-oral route. The virus multiplies in the GI tract and invade the body. It usually causes febrile illness. The virus is shed by an infected individual with fecal matter. So it is water and food borne infection. In some patients, this virus can damage anterior horn cells of the spinal cord causing permanent paralysis of limbs. Polio is now disappearing due to the introduction of Polio vaccine. It is given to the neonate after birth. There are two forms of vaccine: Sabin and Salk vaccines. Some countries have eradicated Polio with the cover of the vaccine. However, no treatment is available to cure Polio to reverse the paralysis. Polio prevention program is conducted under WHO communicable disease prevention programs in the developing countries.
What is Guillain Barre Syndrome?
GBS is an acute demyelinating illness caused by antibodies.These antibodies are known to be induced by some bacterial and viral illness. It appears about 3-4 weeks after the infection (diarrhea or upper respiratory infections) and it is an immune mediated condition. It causes characteristic ascending paralysis starting from lower limbs upwards. It can affect any muscle up to facial muscles. GBS can be associated with mild sensory abnormalities as well. However, it can be associated with serious autonomic dysfunction such as arrhythmias. Diagnosis is usually clinical and can be confirmed by nerve conduction studies. Sometimes GBS can cause serious complication such as respiratory muscle paralysis and death. Therefore, these patients need careful management by a neurologist in a center with intensive care facilities. Treatment is by intravenous immunoglobulins or by plasmapheresis where disease-causing antibodies are neutralized or removed from the body. GBS patients can completely recover with the remyelination of neurons. Very rarely, some residual weakness may persist despite the regression the disease.
What is the difference between Polio and Guillain Barre Syndrome?
Cause, Pathology, Clinical Features, Treatment and Prevention of Polio and Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
Polio: Polio is caused by the Polio virus.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS is caused by antibodies against myelin sheaths of neurons.
Polio: Polio virus is transmitted by contaminated food and water.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS is not transmitted from one person to the other.
Polio: In Polio, there is damage to the anterior horn cells.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: In GBS, there is demyelination of long axons of neurons.
Polio: Polio does not cause sensory abnormalities.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS can cause mild sensory abnormalities.
Autonomic System Dysfunction:
Polio: Polio does not cause autonomic system dysfunction.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS can cause autonomic system dysfunction.
Pattern of Weakness:
Polio: Polio causes slowly progressive, asymmetrical permanent paralysis.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS causes rapidly progressive ascending symmetrical and reversible paralysis.
Polio: Polio does not have a threat to the life.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS can cause death due to respiratory muscle paralysis.
Polio: Polio does not have a specific treatment.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS is treated with intravenous human immunoglobulins or plasmapheresis.
Polio: Polio is a vaccine preventable disease.
Guillain Barre Syndrome: GBS is not a vaccine-preventable disease.
“Polio sequelle” by Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #5578. (Public Domain) via Commons
“ARS Campylobacter jejuni” by De Wood, Pooley, USDA, ARS, EMU. – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency. (Public Domain) via Commons