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J Emerg Med. 2000 Jan;18(1):109-19.

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

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Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


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).

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