Re-emergence of human T-lymphotropic viruses in West Africa

Braz J Infect Dis. 2018 May-Jun;22(3):224-234. doi: 10.1016/j.bjid.2018.05.003. Epub 2018 Jun 5.


Human T-lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) are Deltaretroviruses that infect millions of individuals worldwide via the same transmission routes as HIV. With the aim of exposing the possible re-emergence of HTLV in West Africa since discovery, a systematic review was carried out, focusing on the distribution of the virus types and significance of frequent indeterminate reports, while highlighting the need for mandatory routine blood screening. Capturing relevant data from discovery till date, sources searched were Google Scholar, CrossRef, NCBI (PubMed), MEDLINE, Research Gate, Mendeley, abstracts of Conferences and Proceedings, organization websites and reference lists of selected papers. A total of 2626 references were initially retrieved using search terms: Worldwide prevalence of HTLV, HTLV in Africa, HTLV in West Africa, HTLV subtypes, HTLV 3 and 4 in Africa, HTLV of African origin, HTLV seroindeterminate results, Spread of HTLV. These references were rigorously trimmed down to 76. Although evidence shows that HTLV is still endemic in the region, West Africa lacks recent epidemiological prevalence data. Thorough investigations are needed to ascertain the true cause of indeterminate Western Blot results. It is imperative that routine screening for HTLVs be mandated in West African health care facilities.

Keywords: ATLL; Blood transfusion; Epidemiology; HAM/TSP; HTLV in West Africa; Seroindeterminate individuals; Worldwide distribution.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Western / epidemiology
  • Deltaretrovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Deltaretrovirus Infections / transmission
  • Deltaretrovirus*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies