Atovaquone in the Treatment of Babesia microti Infections in Hamsters

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  • Departments of Pathology (Division of Parasitology) and Medicine (Infectious Diseases Division) Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Southampton Hospital, Bronx, New York

The traditional therapy for the treatment of human Babesia microti infections has been the combination of clindamycin and quinine. However, in recent years, it has become apparent that some patients have not responded to this regimen. We became involved in the treatment of several cases of babesiosis in which atovaquone was used to treat this infection. Therefore, using the hamster model, we determined the efficacy of atovaquone alone as well as atovaquone plus azithromycin for the treatment of experimental babesiosis. Atovaquone (100 mg/kg/day) and atovaquone (100 mg/kg/day) with azithromycin (150 mg/kg/day) were effective agents for the treatment of experimental babesiosis in hamsters. When atovaquone was used as monotherapy recrudescences occurred. Organisms obtained from recrudescent animals, when inoculated into uninfected animals, proved to be unresponsive to atovaquone therapy, suggesting the emergence of drug resistance. Resistant organisms did not emerge in hamsters treated with the combination of atovaquone and azithromycin. Atovaquone should be considered in the therapeutic regimen of patients with babesiosis who have either failed standard therapy or have become intolerant to such therapy.

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