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November 1992

Human T Lymphotropic Virus Type I—Associated MyelopathyA Report of 10 Patients Born in the United States

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(11):1113-1118. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530350027014

• Human T lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I)—associated myelopathy (HAM) (tropical spastic paraparesis/HAM) has rarely been reported in the United States. We present 10 well-documented cases with positive Western immunoblot test results and polymerase chain reactions for HTLV-I. The clinical and laboratory features of these American-born patients resemble those previously reported series of tropical spastic paraparesis and HAM from the Caribbean and japan, but important differences were observed. In our study there were equal numbers of whites and blacks and of men and women. Age at onset was younger than that reported from the Caribbean and Japan. Rate of progression to paraparesis varied but was more rapid than previously reported. Half were transfusion recipients but six had multiple sexual partners, with one regularly interacting with prostitutes and reporting a history of drug abuse. Although more rapid progression was seen in the transfusion recipients, this did not explain the earlier age of onset in this group of patients. The HTLV-I, and the associated myelopathy, are endemic in Florida, suggesting that immigration from, and proximity, to the Caribbean basin are contributing risk factors.