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Saudi Med J. 2004 Oct;25(10):1419-22.

Prevalence of human T-lymphotropic virus type I and type II antibody among blood donors in Eastern Saudi Arabia.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory and Blood Bank, King Fahad Hospital and Tertiary Care Center, Al-Hofuf, Al-Hasa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type I and type II (HTLV-I/II) infections can be transfusion associated, leading to tropical paraparesis, myelopathy and other neurological disorders. The aim of this study is to circumvent the risk of transmission through blood transfusion and to describe the prevalence of HTLV-I/II antibody among blood donors of Al-Hasa region and the cost effectiveness of screening blood donors.


The study was conducted at the Department of Laboratory and Blood Bank, King Fahad Hospital, Al-Hofuf, Al-Hasa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period of 1997 to 2003. A total of 47426 blood donors were screened for HTLV-I/II antibody by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, during the 7 years of study period. The positive samples were confirmed by western blot analysis.


Overall, HTLV-I antibody positivity (confirmed by western blot) was 3/47426 (0.006%). Out of 3 donors positive for HTLV-I antibody during 1997 to 1998, 2 were expatriates (Indian) and one was native Saudi donor. Human T-cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type I antibody positivity among the native Saudi donors was 1/47426 (0.002%) (2/100000 blood donors). None of the donor were positive for HTLV-II antibody. During the last 5 consecutive years of the study period (1999-2003), none of the donor was positive for HTLV-I/II antibody.


Al-Hasa region is non-endemic for HTLV-I/II virus infections. Screening of native Saudi blood donors for these viruses does not appear to be cost effective.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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