Tropical Spastic Paraparesis (TSP) is a progressive condition that affects nervous system and causes weakness, stiff muscles, muscle spasms, sensory disturbance, and sphincter dysfunction. The studies have found a significant association between the human retrovirus — human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type 1 (also known as HTLV-1) — and TSP.
Those with tropical spastic paraparesis exhibit symptoms such as inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye, arthritis, inflammation of the lung, inflammatory muscle disease, persistent dryness of the cornea and conjunctiva, and infectious dermatitis.
In addition to neurological symptoms of weakness and muscle stiffness or spasms, in rare cases individuals with HAM/TSP also exhibit uveitis (inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye), arthritis (inflammation of one or more joints), pulmonary lymphocytic alveolitis (inflammation of the lung), polymyositis (an inflammatory muscle disease), keratoconjunctivitis sicca (persistent dryness of the cornea and conjunctiva), and infectious dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). The other serious complication of HTLV-1 infection is the development of adult T-cell leukemia or lymphoma. Nervous system and blood-related complications occur only in a very small proportion of infected individuals, while most remain largely without symptoms throughout their lives.
It is a communicable condition which is transferred from a person-to-person through infected cells. An infected mother can give it to her baby through breast-milk. Sharing infected needles during intravenous drug use or by having sex with a partner who is seropositive are among other ways of transmission.
As of now, there is not treatment for the condition. However, corticosteroids have been found to relieve some symptoms of the disorder.
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