Volume 8 Supplement 1

15th International Conference on Human Retroviruses: HTLV and Related Viruses

Open Access

Prevalence and changing distribution of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 infections in Spain

  • Ana Treviño1Email author,
  • Antonio Aguilera2,
  • Estrella Caballero3,
  • Rafael Benito4,
  • Patricia Parra1,
  • Jose M Eiros5,
  • Araceli Hernandez6,
  • Enrique Calderón7,
  • Manuel Rodríguez8,
  • Alvaro Torres9,
  • Juan García10,
  • Jose Manuel Ramos11,
  • Lourdes Roc12,
  • Goitzane Marcaida13,
  • Carmen Rodríguez14,
  • Matilde Trigo15,
  • Cesar Gomez16,
  • Raul Ortíz de Lejarazu5,
  • Carmen de Mendoza1 and
  • Vincent Soriano1
Retrovirology20118(Suppl 1):A86


Published: 6 June 2011


Most HTLV-1/2 infections in Spain have been found in native intravenous drug users carrying HTLV-2. However, the large immigration flows from Latin America and Africa during the last decade may have changed the prevalence and distribution of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 infections, and hypothetically even open the opportunity for introducing the new HTLV-3 or HTLV-4 variants.


A national multicenter, cross-sectional, national study was conducted in June 2009 recruiting consecutive adult outpatients attending 16 different hospitals in Spain. HTLV-1/2 antibodies were screened using an EIA and further confirmed using a commercial Western blot. Samples with indeterminate Western blot patterns were examined using specific PCR assays for discriminating HTLV types 1 to 4.


A total of 6,460 patients were studied. Overall, 40% were males and 88% were native Spaniards. The main origin of the immigrant population was Latin America (4.9%), Africa (3.6%) and other European countries (2.8%). A total of 9 individuals were seroreactive for HTLV antibodies (overall prevalence 0.14%). Of these, Western blot confirmed as HTLV-1 in 4 (prevalence 0.06%) and HTLV-2 in 5 (prevalence 0.08%). Another 2 specimens yielded EIA reactivity close to the cut-off and could not be confirmed as positive for any of the HTLV types 1 to 4. All but one HTLV-1 cases were Latin Americans while all HTLV-2 cases were native Spaniards. The single HTLV-1 subject born in Spain was a 31 year-old woman who denied any significant risk behavior for HTLV exposure, including intravenous drug use, sexual promiscuity, transfusions or travel to Latin America. All HTLV-1 carriers but one were asymptomatic. A woman from the Dominican Republic was diagnosed with mild TSP/HAM.


The overall prevalence of HTLV-1/2 infections in Spain remains low, although a shift in the relative proportion of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 seems to have occurred in recent years. The recognition of HTLV-1 in a native Spaniard with lack of recognizable risk factors for HTLV-1 exposure should alert about a spread of HTLV-1 outside classical risk groups. No cases of HTLV-3 nor HTLV-4 infections have been identified so far in Spain.

Authors’ Affiliations

Hospital Carlos III
Hospital Conxo, Santiago de Compostela
Hospital Vall d´Hebron
Hospital Clínico Universitario Lozano Blesa
Hospital Clínico Universitario
Hospital Insular, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío
Hospital Universitario Puerta del Mar
Hospital Universitario de Canarias
Hospital Cristal-Piñor
Hospital General
Hospital Miguel Servet
Hospital General Universitario
Centro Sanitario Sandoval
Complejo Hospitalario
Complejo Hospitalario Virgen de la Salud


© Treviño et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.