Malaria in a Nonimmune Population after Extended Chloroquine or Primaquine Prophylaxis

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  • U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Provincial Health Service, Infectious Diseases Research Center, National Institute of Health Research and Development, Naval Medical Research Institute, Jakarta, Indonesia

Extended chemoprophylaxis against endemic malaria raises concern with regard to susceptibility after ceasing use of the drug. In this study, we measured attack rates of malaria among adult men for 28 weeks after they ended one year of prophylaxis using either weekly chloroquine (5 mg base/kg, n = 20), daily primaquine (0.5 mg base/kg, n = 30), or a placebo of primaquine (n = 41). The 28-week incidence densities, times to parasitemia, parasite densities, and symptoms of primary post-prophylaxis infections were not significantly different among the former primaquine, chloroquine, and placebo groups. However, the incidence of Plasmodium falciparum infection in the post-chloroquine group was significantly greater than in the post-primaquine group during the first (P = 0.03) and second (P = 0.02) months post-prophylaxis. Six of 10 primary P. falciparum and three of 10 P. vivax infections occurred in the former chloroquine group within one month after ending prophylaxis and the mean time to infection was 30–35 days. In contrast, only one P. falciparum and no P. vivax infections occurred during the first month after ending primaquine prophylaxis. The mean time to first parasitemia by either species of malaria parasite in this group was 72–77 days. There was no indication that daily use of primaquine for one year placed subjects at greater risk of malaria infection or to more severe clinical symptoms of malaria than subjects who had taken placebo or chloroquine, despite the potential for some degree of immunity to have been acquired in these latter two groups during the year-long prophylaxis period. The results do suggest that chloroquine suppressed P. falciparum infections until drug levels decreased, and that primaquine had effectively prevented the establishment of liver-stage parasites.