Although the exact cause of GBS is unknown, two-thirds of patients who develop it have had a viral or bacterial infection 1 to 3 weeks before the development of symptoms. The most typical site and cause of infections are a lung or intestinal infection caused by Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) or cytomegalovirus (CMV). Infections with Epstein-Barr virus and Mycoplasma pneumoniae are also associated with GBS. Another 10% of patients have had recent surgical procedures during the 4 weeks before GBS developed. Other diseases that have been linked to the development of GBS are lymphoma, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, gastroenteritis, Hodgkin's disease, and lupus erythematosus. In some cases, GBS develops after immunization for influenza.

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