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Neurological morbidity among human T-lymphotropic-virus-type-1-infected individuals in a rural West African population

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 13:50 authored by S Cooper, M Schim van der Loeff, S McConkey, Maxwell CooperMaxwell Cooper, R Sarge-Njie, S Kaye, H Whittle
BACKGROUND Community-based neurological data about human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa are scarce. OBJECTIVES To ascertain the prevalence of neurological morbidity, in particular tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP), among HTLV-1-infected subjects and to compare TSP prevalence in HTLV-1-infected with that in non-infected subjects in a rural West African population. METHODS A cross-sectional study of HTLV-1-infected cases and controls (ratio 4:1) from a rural community (population approximately 10 000, HTLV-1 prevalence 7.7%). One neurologist masked to HTLV-1 serological status assessed all subjects. Clinical criteria were employed to diagnose TSP. RESULTS From 205 eligible cases and controls, 139 were recruited with a mean age of 56 years, and 113 (81%) were HTLV-1-infected. 108/139 (78%) were female, and 8/113 HTLV-1 infected cases (7.1%) had a definite or probable TSP (all females; mean age 67 years) compared with 0/26 controls. Two with TSP were co-infected with HIV-2. Complaints of back pain and leg weakness were more common in HTLV-1-infected individuals (p = 0.03, p = 0.02), but no single symptom distinguished between subjects with and without TSP. CONCLUSION We report a prevalence of TSP among HTLV-1-infected persons in this rural West African setting of 7.1%. There are difficulties excluding other potential aetiologies here


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  • Published


Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry




British Medical Association





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