Clinical profile of human T-lymphotropic virus type I: a forgotten infection in pediatrics

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Juliana Mejía-Mertel
Nicolás Gómez-Banoy
Juan Pablo Rojas-Hernández
Eduardo Gotuzzo-Herencia


The Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), a retrovirus with oncogenic properties, affects around ten to twenty million people worldwide. The most common disorders associated with HTLV-1 infection are T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ALT) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). Studies have reported other clinical manifestations in HTLV-1 seropositive patients, including inflammatory disorders, co-infections with opportunistic agents, and pulmonary diseases. Objective: Here, we aim to describe a cohort of juvenile patients with confirmed HTLV-1 infection that showed clinical manifestations other than neurological symptoms. Methodology and patients: Retrospective analysis of clinical data describing background and clinical findings of 12 juvenile patients with confirmed HTLV-1 infection, attended during January 2018 to February 2020 in a pediatric referral hospital in Cali, Colombia. Results: 11 out 12 patients were from Colombia´s Pacific coast, 10 suffered from significant nutritional deficiencies. Six exhibited dermatological findings, 3 compatible with infective dermatitis. None of the cases exhibited clinical or laboratory findings suggesting ALT or HAM/TPS. Eight patients had structural lung disease assessed by chest Computed Tomography (CT) scans; 4 of them tested positive for galactomannan antigen in bronchoalveolar fluid suggesting pulmonary aspergillosis, and 2 others exhibited a positive PCR testing for tuberculosis. Three patients were diagnosed with autoimmune disorders; 1 patient with Crohn´s Diseases, 1 case of autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura, and a patient with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (non-granulomatous uveitis). Conclusions: There is a broad range of clinical manifestations in pediatric HTLV-1 patients, and the clinician should consider structural pulmonary disease, opportunistic co-infections and autoimmune disorders in the diagnostic algorithm.

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