Multi-Drug Resistant Falciparum Malaria in Cameroon in 1987–1988 I. Stable Figures of Prevalence of Chloroquine- and Quinine-Resistant Isolates in the Original Foci

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  • Laboratoire de Parasitologie, Hotel Dieu, Centre de Recherche Medicale, IMPM, Laboratoire de Parasitologie Biomedicale, Institut Pasteur, Rouen, France

The status of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Cameroon was determined in 1987–1988 in 221 children who were selected for chloroquine and quinine in vitro microtests. Resistance to quinine was found in 17% of 72 isolates from the southern part of the country, and in 7% of 87 isolates from the northern part of the country. The effective concentrations of 50% and 90% (EC50 and EC90) differed little from those observed in 1986. In southern Cameroon, 38 (51%) of 74 individuals harbored chloroquine-resistant isolates. The EC50 ranged from 8 to 553 nmol and the mean ± SD EC50 was 154 ± 148 nmol. In contrast, in the northern area, all but one of the 120 subjects studied had EC50 values below the cutoff limit of 80 nmol (mean = 20 nmol). In vivo 7-day assays performed with chloroquine at a dose of 25 mg/kg in 389 individuals from the southwestern part of the country clearly confirmed RII–RIII levels of resistance in 18–52% of the cases, depending on the location studied. In the northern area, in vivo 7-day assays at a chloroquine dose of 10 mg/kg showed 36 of 39 subjects studied to have drug-sensitive parasites.

Based on these results, it appears that after a rapid emergence of resistance that occurred in southern Cameroon, the prevalence of chloroquine- and quinine-resistant parasites remained fairly stable from 1986 to 1988. The stable difference between the northern and southern areas is believed to be related to both the lower rate of transmission and lower chloroquine drug pressure in the north.