HTLV-I associated myelopathy: an endemic disease of Canadian aboriginals of the Northwest Pacific coast?

Can J Neurol Sci. 1993 Nov;20(4):302-6.


Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I) is responsible for HTLV-I associated myelopathy or tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and for adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL). Both diseases have been well described in individuals living in Japan, West Indies, Seychelles Islands and Columbia where infection with HTLV-I is considered endemic and in persons whose descendants originated from these endemic areas. We report here 4 cases of HAM/TSP in 4 natives from 4 different tribal groups from British Columbia (B.C.). These are the first case reports of HTLV-I linked diseases found among North American Aboriginals. Possible routes of infection for HTLV-I infection included sexual transmission, breast feeding, blood transfusions and IV drug use. The seroprevalence of HTLV-I in North American Native population is unknown and we suggest that it is endemic in this ethnic group.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Manitoba
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / epidemiology*
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / transmission