Efficacy and Side Effects of Praziquantel in an Epidemic Focus of Schistosoma mansoni

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  • Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leiden, Region Medicale de St. Louis, Flemish Cooperation of Belgium, Leiden, The Netherlands

Schistosoma mansoni was first reported in the area of Richard Toll (Senegal) in 1988 and spread rapidly in the community, after a series of human-engineered ecologic changes. A random population sample (n = 422) from Ndombo, a village near Richard-Toll, was studied in 1991 by stool examination (four Kato slides from two stool samples) and antigen detection in urine and blood. Stool-positive individuals were treated with 40 mg/kg of praziquantel. A house-to-house interview regarding side effects was conducted 24 hr after treatment. Two hundred ninety-eight subjects were re-examined 10 days (antigen detection) and 12 weeks (egg counts, antigen detection) after treatment. Before treatment, positive egg counts were found in 91% of the subjects, with 41% excreting more than 1,000 eggs per gram (epg) of feces. Treatment of 352 individuals caused serious but transient side effects (colic, vomiting, urticaria, and edema), the frequency of which increased with increasing egg counts. The parasitologic cure rate 12 weeks after treatment was only 18%, the frequency of egg counts with more than 1,000 epg decreased to 5%, and the mean egg count of those remaining positive was reduced by 86%. Antigen detection in serum 10 days and 12 weeks after treatment remained positive in 90% of the subjects, although titers decreased sharply. The low cure rates may be due to intense transmission and/or undeveloped immune responses in this recently exposed population. However, reduced drug susceptibility of the parasite strain has now been confirmed in one local isolate.

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