Guizhou Provincial Institute of Parasitic Diseases and Guizhou Provincial Institute of Pharmacology and Drug Control, Tongren and Zunyi Prefecture Sanitary and Antiepidemic Stations, Harvard School of Public Health, Guiyang, Guizhou, People's Republic of China
We compared the efficacy of a single dose of ivermectin with that of a standard course of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) for the control of microfilaremia in 60 patients with bancroftian filariasis who had developed recurrent microfilaremia after each of three or more prior treatments with DEC. The study was done as a randomized, double-blind trial. Complete, but in some cases, transient clearance of microfilaremia was observed in both treatment groups. At one year, recurrent microfilaremia was present in seven patients treated with ivermectin and in five treated with DEC. Pretreatment levels of microfilaremia were significantly higher in patients who relapsed within one year after treatment than in those who remained amicrofilaremic. Side effects with both treatments were common, but mild. Febrile reactions were more frequent in the ivermectin group; localized reactions consistent with a flare-up of acute filarial disease occurred mostly in the DEC group. We conclude that ivermectin is an effective and practical alternative to DEC for treatment of recurrent microfilaremia due to bancroftian filariasis.