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Name: R. E. Post, Jr.
Status: Other
Age: 60s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

Is there any evidence that Guillian Barret syndrome is associated with ingestion of unpasturized honey?

The syndrome is of unknown etiology with some association with certain viral conditions such as mononucleosis.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy

Guillain Barre syndrom (GBS) is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system starts to degrade neural cells. This causes paralysis of the limbs, which is mostly temporarily. The disease can be severe and most patients need to be hospitalized. It can be lethal in some cases.

The cause is not completely clarified but is most frequently a prior infection by a virus or a bacterium. Several viruses and bacteria can lead to GBS although they would normally colonize the gut. Often the bacteria are already gone by the time GBS starts to become apparent. It is believed that certain antigens present on the microorganism resemble structures present on our neural cells, so that the antibodies directed to clean up the infection then start to degrade our own cells.

The most frequently found bacterium infecting GBS patients is Campylobacter jejuni, which causes diarrhea. Fortunately only few infections with C. jejuni result in GBS since Campylobacter infections are quite common. Scientists are still studying why those unlucky ones get GBS and many others don't.

Could unpasteurized honey result in GBS? In theory, yes, if a certain microorganism present in honey would cause an infection that then would result in GBS. However the chances are minute that this would happen. Campylobacter is not usually associated with honey. If anything, undercooked chicken meat would be a higher risk because this is frequently contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni.

Trudy Wassenaar

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