Tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) is a chronic disease that affects the nervous system in adults. The progressive condition is characterized by weakness, stiff muscles, muscle spasms, sensory disturbance and sphincter dysfunction.
In some cases, TSP patients may also experience inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. Some other complications associated with tropical spastic paraparesis are arthritis, pulmonary lymphocytic alveolitis, polymyositis, keratoconjucntivitis sicca and infectious dermatitis.
The human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted from person-to-person through infected cells. The cells can be passed from breast-feeding mothers who have high level of virus antibodies in their blood, by sharing infected needles during intravenous drug use, or during sexual intercourse with seropositive partner.
A treatment for the condition is yet to be established. However, corticosteroids can give some relief from the symptoms but, cannot cure the condition. Some studies have shown that interferon alpha can give some relief for a short period of time. Also, interferon beta can relieve some activity of the disease. The stiff and spastic muscles can be treated by the use of lioresal or tizanidine. The dysfunction of the urinary system can be treated with oxybutynin.
The disease advances with time but is not life-threatening. Many patients live for years after the diagnosis of the disease. Taking preventive measure for the urinary tract infection and skin sores improves the quality of life significantly.
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