J Clin Virol 2011 Oct 22;52(2):119-22. Epub 2011 Jul 22.
Infectious Diseases Department, Hospital Carlos III, Calle Sinesio Delgado 10, Madrid, Spain.
Background: The overall seroprevalence of HTLV infection among pregnant women in Spain is below 0.02% and accordingly universal antenatal screening is not recommended. However, as the number of immigrants has significantly increased during the last decade, this population might warrant specific considerations.
Objective: To evaluate the seroprevalence of HTLV infection among immigrant pregnant women living in Spain.
Methods: From January 2009 to December 2010 a cross-sectional study was carried out in all foreign pregnant women attended at 14 Spanish clinics. All were tested for HTLV antibodies using a commercial enzyme-immunoassay, being reactive samples confirmed by Western blot or PCR.
Results: A total of 3337 foreign pregnant women were examined. Their origin was as follows: Latin America 1579 (47%), North Africa 507 (16%), East Europe 606 (18%), Sub-Saharan Africa 316 (9%), North America and West Europe 116 (3.5%) and Asia and Australia 163 (5%). A total of 7 samples were confirmed as HTLV positive, of which 6 were HTLV-1 and 1 HTLV-2. HTLV-1 infection was found in 5 women coming from Latin America and 1 from Morocco. The only woman with HTLV-2 came from Ghana. The overall HTLV seroprevalence was 0.2%, being 0.3% among Latin Americans and 0.2% among Africans. It was absent among women coming from other regions.
Conclusions: The seroprevalence of HTLV infection among foreign pregnant women in Spain is 0.2%, being all cases found in immigrants from Latin America and Africa. Given the benefit of preventing vertical transmission, antenatal screening should be recommended in pregnant women coming from these regions.