Recurrence Rate after Discontinuation of Long-Term Mebendazole Therapy in Alveolar Echinococcosis (Preliminary Results)

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  • Gastroenterology Service, University Hospital, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Berne, Institute of Parasitology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

The recurrence rate was investigated in 19 patients with non-resectable alveolar echinococcosis after discontinuation of a long-term therapy with mebendazole (average treatment 4.3 years). A control group consisted of 14 patients who underwent radical surgery and finished a course of prophylactic postoperative mebendazole treatment of 2 years. In the controls, no recurrence was observed after a post-therapy period averaging 3.5 years. In contrast, recurrence occurred in 7/19 patients (37%) with non-resectable alveolar echinococcosis an average of 1.6 years after discontinuation of the long-term mebendazole therapy. The absence of clinically detectable recurrence in the remaining 12 patients seems to be due either to spontaneous inactivation of alveolar echinococcosis preceding chemotherapy or too short post-therapy surveillance. The patients with recurrence responded favorably to reintroduction of chemotherapy. The data indicate that mebendazole therapy is parasitostatic rather than parasiticidal.