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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis


Other Names for this Disease

  • HAM/TSP
  • Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis
  • Tropical spastic paraparesis (formerly)
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP)?

What are the signs and symptoms of HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis?

How might HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) be treated?

What is HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP)?

HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) is a chronic, progressive disease of the nervous system that affects less than 2 percent of people with HTLV-1 infection. Signs and symptoms vary but may include progressive weakness, stiff muscles, muscle spasms, backache, a 'weak' bladder, and constipation.[1][2] The HTLV-1 virus can be transmitted from mother to child via breastfeeding or childbirth, from person to person through sexual contact and through blood contact, either by transfusion or by reuse of injection equipment.[2][3][4] HTLV infection is not passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing, kissing, cuddling or daily social contact.[4] Screening of donated blood for HTLV-1 has been done in the United States since 1988.[3]
Last updated: 3/16/2011

What are the signs and symptoms of HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis?

Signs and symptoms of HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) vary but may include:[1][2]

  • Progressive weakness 
  • Stiff muscles 
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Backache
  • A 'weak' bladder 
  • Constipation

Rarely HAM/TSP may cause:[2]

  • Uveitis 
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the lung 
  • Polymyositis 
  • Dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) 
  • Skin inflammation (infectious dermatitis)
Last updated: 3/16/2011

How might HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) be treated?

There is no established treatment program for HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP).  Corticosteroids may relieve some symptoms, but aren’t likely to change the course of the disorder.  Clinical studies suggest that interferon alpha provides benefits over short periods and some aspects of disease activity may be improved favorably using interferon beta. Stiff and spastic muscles may be treated with lioresal or tizanidine.  Urinary dysfunction may be treated with oxybutynin.[2]
Last updated: 3/16/2011

References
  1. Tropical Spastic Paraparesis/HTLV-1–Associated Myelopathy. The Merck Manuals: Online Medical Library. August 2007; http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec06/ch093/ch093j.html. Accessed 3/17/2008.
  2. Tropical Spastic Paraparesis. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. May 9, 2007; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tropical_spastic_paraparesis/tropical_spastic_paraparesis.htm. Accessed 3/17/2008.
  3. Szczypinska EM, Wallace MR, Wainscoat B, Salas C, Rich JD. Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Viruses. eMedicine. 2009; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/219285-overview. Accessed 11/12/2010.
  4. General Information--HTLV. Health Protection Agency. 2010; http://www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/hiv_and_sti/HTLV/general.htm. Accessed 11/12/2010.


Other Names for this Disease
  • HAM/TSP
  • Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis
  • Tropical spastic paraparesis (formerly)
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.