The Northern Territory in Australia is being plagued by an ancient virus known as HTLV-1, infecting residents in a specific area, where doctors are concerned over the further spread of the infection.
The rates around the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) have rose over 40 percent when it comes to adults and is spreading within remote areas of Australia’s central region. Indigenous communities are the ones being hit the hardest.
CNN advised that a variety of doctors, as well as the man who discovered HTLV-1 close to forty years ago, are worried about the fact that little is being done to prevent the disease, as well as test and treat it. HTLV-1 has been known to cause lymphoma and leukemia.
An ancient infection which was found in the DNA of Andean mummies over 1,500 years old can be spread via mom to child, where breastfeeding can transfer the virus; through unprotected sex; and via blood contact (e.g. transfusions). It is also linked with a variety of serious health issues, including bronchiectasis, diseases of the nervous system, and causes the immune system to weaken. As such, HTLV-1 is often referred to as the ‘cousin’ of HIV.
The illness has come into light now, thanks to what is most-likely the highest-to-date reports around prevalence in any specific population, which is the indigenous Australians in the central area of the continent.
Still, it is present globally, with endemic regions within some parts of the Caribbean, as well as the southwestern sector of Japan. South American areas like Peru, Brazil, French Guyana, and Colombia have HTLV-1 presence, as well as intertropical areas of Africa, like region of Gabon.
There are also some regions in the Middle East with the illness, Mashhad in Iran, as well as an area in Romania. Lastly, there is an uncommon isolated cluster of the illness in Melanesia; however, the prevalence in the United Kingdom and United States is low.
A 1993 study revealed that there was a high prevalence of HTLV-1 endemic within inland Australian natives in the Allice Springs region, with a rate of close to 14 percent.
No one knows if that old study sample happens to be the same population with the current HTLV-1 rate, and its also unclear if the past rate was measured in the same way it is being analyzed today.
Regardless, the current rate of prevalence is over 40 percent, which is being touted as ‘extraordinary’.
As such, the illness is causing bronchiectasis issues with individuals dying of this condition due to its link to the HTLV-1 infection. Many experts believe the virus (and diseases it is linked to) is being neglected. Furthermore, the reason behind the high prevalence numbers around the virus seem to be a mystery.