Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Facts

Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Facts
The Human T-lymphotropic Virus is a retrovirus known to cause adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma as well as HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis. HTLV-1 has six known subtypes (A to F), while most infections are a result of subtype A exposure. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 20 people that become infected with the Human T-lymphotropic Virus will develop cancer as a result. The virus was first identified in the early 1980s in a cutaneous T-cell lymphoma patient. It is believed that as many as 20 million people around the world today carry the HTLV-1 virus.
Interesting Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Facts:
It is estimated that approximately 90% of the 20 million carriers of the HTLV-1 virus will not become symptomatic during their lives.
In countries where HTLV-1 is prevalent, screening of blood is done to help prevent its spread.
The most common method of transmission of HTLV-1 is through unsafe sex, blood contact, and breastfeeding.
Mother to child transmission of HTLV-1 during the intrauterine period is estimated to be under 5%.
Mother to child transmission of HTLV-1 through breastfeeding is estimated to be roughly 20% but this also depends on the length of time a mother breastfeeds.
The most efficient manner in which HTLV-1 is transmitted is through blood or blood products. Plasma products carry a lower risk.
HTLV-1 is also transmitted through unsafe sex, much like the risk for other viral diseases like HIV.
HTLV-1 is more prevalent in Central and South America, the Caribbean islands, Africa, and in Japan.
In some places in Japan HTLV-1 rates are as high as 37%. It is considered endemic in those regions.
Jamaica's rate of HTLV-1 infections is 5%, while in Africa it ranges from under 1% to over 5%.
France has an extremely low rate of HTLV-1 infections from blood donors. It is estimated at 0.0039% in that country.
Japan began screening blood donors in 1986, while the United States began to screen in 1988. The Caribbean, Canada, and the French Isles began to screen in 1989.
While blood can transmit HTLV-1, blood plasma or other blood products such as immunoglobulin, antihemophilic factors, or albumin do not transmit the virus.
The risk of acquiring HTLV-1 in the United States through blood transfusions is 1 in 921,000.
Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma usually appears between 20 to 30 years after being infected with HTLV-1 virus. Males are more commonly affected.
Being infected with HTLV-1 in childhood puts someone at a higher risk of developing adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma later in life.
Despite medical science advancements, once diagnosed with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma the prognosis is not promising.
Common complications of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma include hypercalcemia, multidrug resistance of malignant cells, multi-organ failure, and tumors.
In those infected with HTLV-1, dermatological conditions can often predict who may be more susceptible to developing adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma.
Dermatological conditions can include cutaneous lesions, infective dermatitis, and crusted scabies.
Individuals with HTLV-1 are also more prone to rheumatic and autoimmune conditions, muscle inflammation, opportunistic infections, and even psychiatric disorders such as depression.


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