Tropical spastic paraparesis is a chronic and degenerative neurological condition caused by exposure to a virus. Symptoms include progressive weakness, muscle spasms, arthritis, inflammation of the lung tissue, eye problems, sphincter dysfunction and immune dysfunction, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Modern epidemiological studies have found that tropical spastic paraparesis is contracted through exposure to a virus known as HTLV-1, notes the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The virus can be transmitted through blood transfusions, ingestion of infected breast milk, intravenous drug use or sexual contact with an infected partner. There is no cure for tropical spastic paraparesis, although corticosteroids can be used to treat its symptoms.