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Swine flu jab linked to rare nerve disease

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Swine flu jab linked to rare nerve disease

Health watchdogs have admitted for the first time that there may be a possible link between the swine flu jab and an increased risk of developing a rare nerve disease.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent DailyTelegraph

Experts are carrying out studies to examine a possible association between the vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition which attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis and even death.

The authorities have always denied any link although it had been suggested a previous swine flu vaccine had caused cases of the disease in America in the 1970s.

Now the Medicines and Health care products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published a report that suggests that further tests are to be carried out.

It reads: "Given the uncer tainties in the available information and as with seasonal flu vaccines, a slightly elevated risk of GBS following H1N1 vaccines cannot be ruled out.

"Epidemiological studies are ongoing to further assess this possible association."

It is not known precisely what causes GBS but the condition attacks the lining of the nerves, leaving them unable to transmit signals to muscles effectively.

It can cause partial paralysis and mostly affects the hands and feet - but it can be fatal if it paralyses the respiratory system.

A vaccine used to combat a different form of swine flu in the US in 1976 led to 25 deaths from the condition, compared with just one death from swine flu itself.

Amid fears there could be a repeat, neurologists were asked to record cases of GBS in the UK swine flu outbreak.

Millions of people this year will be exposed to the swine flu vaccine as it has been included within the seasonal flu jab.

Government experts say there is no evidence of an increase in risk similar to 1976, but the MHRA report reveals they are calculating if there might be a smaller raised risk.

The MHRA had 15 suspected GBS cases after vaccination - and six million doses of the swine flu jab Pandemrix were given.

It is not known if swine flu or the vaccine could have caused the suspected cases.

A spokesman for the MHRA said the risk with the vaccine had not changed and that the report "simply expands" on ongoing GBS analysis.

"The position was and remains that there is no confirmed evidence that the vaccines are a cause of GBS," he said.


By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent DailyTelegraph

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