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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Jun 1;40(11):e90-6. Epub 2005 Apr 27.

Infective dermatitis associated with the human T cell lymphotropic virus type I in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

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Department of Medicine, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.



Infective dermatitis associated with human T cell lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) infection is a chronic, relapsing eczema of childhood.


Children, their mothers, and their siblings underwent serological testing for HTLV-I. Epidemiological data were collected from all seropositive children and their family members, and clinical and dermatological examinations were performed. Laboratory studies, including skin culture, and histopathological analyses were also performed. The diagnosis of infective dermatitis associated with HTLV-I (IDH) was made according to previously established criteria.


All of the patients with cases that demonstrated clinical aspects of IDH were positive for HTLV-I. The median age of the children at the time of the first visit was 8.0 years (range, 2-14 years). The median duration of breastfeeding for 19 children was 22.5 months (range, 1-48 months). The lesions were erythematous, scaly, exudative, and crusted in all cases. The scalp, retroauricular areas, neck, and groin were the regions that were commonly affected. Cultures were positive for Staphylococcus aureus for 95% of the patients. The children were followed-up for a median of 3.0 years (range, 0.1-7 years), and 5 children developed HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis. All of the children except 1 were treated with sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, and their lesions either improved greatly or completely disappeared.


The present study demonstrates the severity of IDH in Bahia and confirms that its diagnosis is based almost exclusively on clinical aspects of the disease. Serological testing for HTLV-I and careful follow-up is recommended for all children with chronic, relapsing, severe eczema in regions where HTLV-I is endemic.

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