Treatment of Subperiodic Brugia malayi Infection with a Single Dose of Ivermectin

J. W. Mak Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, National Drug Research Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Taiping General Hospital, Penang, Malaysia

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V. Navaratnam Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, National Drug Research Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Taiping General Hospital, Penang, Malaysia

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J. S. Grewel Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, National Drug Research Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Taiping General Hospital, Penang, Malaysia

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S. M. Mansor Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, National Drug Research Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Taiping General Hospital, Penang, Malaysia

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S. Ambu Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, National Drug Research Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Taiping General Hospital, Penang, Malaysia

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A clinical trial on the efficacy of a single oral dose of ivermectin at 20, 50, 100, and 200 µg/kg was carried out in 40 subjects with subperiodic Brugia malayi microfilaremia. There was no significant difference in the clearance of microfilaremia in the four treatment groups, and the lowest geometric mean microfilarial count (GMC) achieved in the 40 subjects was 8.8/ml or 8.3% of the initial count (106.1/ml), at two weeks post-treatment. The GMC started to increase at one month post-treatment and by six months was 22.2% of the initial GMC. Only 27.5%, 23.1%, 15.0%, and 18.9% of subjects were amicrofilaremic at two, four, 12, and 24 weeks post-treatment, respectively. Mild fever in 35% of the subjects was the primary side reaction and was more common in those with microfilarial counts ≥ 500/ml (85.7%) than in those with counts < 500/ml (32%). The clearance of B. malayi microfilaremia by ivermectin was less rapid than that reported for Wuchereria bancrofti. The smaller number of side reactions encountered in the present study compared with those reported for bancroftian filariasis is probably related to the lower microfilarial density in the present subjects. Since ivermectin at a single oral dose of 20–200 µg/kg can reduce the GMC to less than 10% at two weeks and maintain it below 25% of the initial level even at six months post-treatment, it is recommended that the drug be seriously evaluated for use in the control of brugian filariasis.

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