CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Human T cell Lymphotropic Viral Infection

(HTLV; HTLV-I; HTLV-II)

hu-man tee cel lim-fow-trop-ik v-eye-ral infek-shon

Definition

Human T cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) infects a type of white blood cell called a T-cell or T-lymphocyte. White blood cells help fight infection.

Causes    TOP

HTLV infection is caused by a specific virus.

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors    TOP

There are 2 types of HTLV: HTLV-I and HTLV-II.

Factors that increase your chances of getting HTLV-I include:

  • Living in an area where the virus is common, such as Southern Japan, Caribbean countries, parts of Africa and South America, the Middle East, and Melanesia
  • Being breastfed by an infected mother
  • Receiving a blood transfusion or transplant in the United States before 1988
  • Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus, who is an injection drug user, or who is from an area where the virus is common
  • Injection drug use

People of American Indian or African Pygmy descent are at greater risk for HTLV-II.

Factors that increase your chances of getting HTLV-II include:

  • Being breastfed by an infected mother
  • Receiving a blood transfusion in the United States before 1988
  • Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with the virus or who is an injection drug user
  • Injection drug use

Symptoms    TOP

More than 95% of people with HTLV do not have symptoms. However, having the virus puts you at higher risk of developing certain conditions.

  • If you are infected with the HTLV-I virus, it is possible that you may develop
    • Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). This disease involves cancer of a specific group of white blood cells.
    • Opportunistic infections, including Strongyloides stercoralis hyperinfection
    • Inflammation of the eyes, joints, muscles, lungs, or skin (rare)

If you are infected with HTLV-I or HTLV-II, you may also develop a disorder of the nervous system known as HTLV associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). It can cause weakness, numbness and stiffness in the legs, and difficulty walking.

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

HTLV infection can only be diagnosed with a specific blood test. The presence of HTLV antibodies is a sign of infection with the virus.

Treatment    TOP

There is no treatment that can remove the virus from the body. Treatment is aimed at managing HTLV-associated diseases and reducing their symptoms.

To prevent spreading HTLV to others:

  • Do not donate plasma, bone marrow, organs, semen, or breast milk.
  • Do not breastfeed your baby.
  • Avoid unprotected sex.
  • Avoid sharing needles or syringes.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of getting the virus:

  • Avoid unprotected sex. If your partner has the virus, discuss ways to prevent the spread of the virus with your doctor.
  • Avoid sharing needles or syringes.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Blood Systems. HTLV-I/II information sheet. United Blood Services website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 18, 2016.
Human T-Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV). New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 18, 2016.
Tropical spastic paraparesis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 9, 2010. Accessed February 18, 2016.
What is HTLV-II? The National Centre for Human Retrovirology website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 18, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardMichael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 1/13/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000