To define the extent of human T-cell leukaemia virus (HTLV-I) infection among a group of Jewish immigrants to Israel with an increased frequency of adult T-cell leukaemia, various serological and molecular screening methods, including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for anti-HTLV-I, ELISA for antibody to recombinant HTLV-I p40tax protein, and molecular detection of infection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of HTLV-I proviral DNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cell DNA, were used. By HTLV-I ELISA the overall rate of infection was 12% (24 of 208) among immigrants from Khurusan, northeastern Iran; no HTLV-I carriers were detected among 111 unselected Jewish immigrants from other parts of Iran. There was unexplained clustering of HTLV-I infection within a cohort of 32 elderly women of similar geographic origin in a home for old people-14 were seropositive by ELISA and 19 of 29 were positive by PCR. The findings in this newly identified high-risk population suggest that in addition to ELISA, other screening techniques may be required to detect all carriers in high-risk populations.
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