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HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis

Other Names for this Disease
  • Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis
  • Tropical spastic paraparesis (formerly)
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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


  1. Tropical Spastic Paraparesis/HTLV-1–Associated Myelopathy. The Merck Manuals: Online Medical Library. August 2007; Accessed 3/17/2008.
  2. Tropical Spastic Paraparesis. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. May 9, 2007; Accessed 3/17/2008.
  3. Szczypinska EM, Wallace MR, Wainscoat B, Salas C, Rich JD. Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Viruses. eMedicine. 2009; Accessed 11/12/2010.
  4. General Information--HTLV. Health Protection Agency. 2010; Accessed 11/12/2010.
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