What is tropical spastic paraparesis?
Tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) is an incurable viral infection of the spinal cord that causes weakness in the legs. It is caused by the human T-cell lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1) retrovirus.
As the name implies, tropical spastic paraparesis usually occurs in tropical locales. Although isolated cases have been diagnosed in the southeastern United States and other places in the United States, TSP is most frequently found in the Caribbean, Japan, The Seychelles Islands, Regions of South America, Western Africa.
TSP usually affects adults between the ages of 30 and 40 and is far more common in women than in men.
The disease may remain undetected for years after infection is contracted. When the immune system's response to the virus causes nerve damage, the legs gradually lose strength and flexibility.