Tropical spastic paraparesis is a chronic and progressive disease that affects the nervous system in adults living in equatorial areas of the world. The disease causes weakness, stiff muscles, muscle spasms, sensory disturbance, and sphincter dysfunction. Besides these, in some cases TSP the individuals also experience inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. 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. These cells can be transferred through breast-feeding mothers who have high level of virus antibodies in their blood, by sharing infected needles during intravenous drug use, or while having 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 progresses with time but rarely leads to death. Many patients live for years after the diagnosis of the disease. The chances of improvement increase if an individual takes preventive measure for the urinary tract infection and skin sores.
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