Global epidemic of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-I (HTLV-I)

J Emerg Med. 2000 Jan;18(1):109-19. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(99)00173-0.


Infection with human T-cell lymphotrophic virus-I (HTLV-I) is now a global epidemic, affecting 10 million to 20 million people. This virus has been linked to life-threatening, incurable diseases: adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The cumulative lifetime risk of developing these incurable diseases is approximately 5% in asymptomatic patients. For the emergency physician practicing among patients from high-risk groups, HTLV-I and its associated diseases are presenting an increasing challenge. This report describes its transmission, seroprevalence, treatment, and methods of controlling spread of this retrovirus. Coinfection with HTLV-I and HIV has been shown to accelerate the progression of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Global Health
  • HTLV-I Infections / epidemiology*
  • HTLV-I Infections / immunology
  • HTLV-I Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / diagnosis
  • Hypercalcemia / therapy
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / complications
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / epidemiology
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / immunology
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / epidemiology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies