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Comparison of single-dose azithromycin and 12-dose, 3-day erythromycin for childhood cholera: a randomised, double-blind trial.

Author(s): Khan WA, Saha D, Rahman A, Salam MA, Bogaerts J, Bennish ML

Affiliation(s): Clinical Sciences Division, International Centre For Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka. wakhan@icddrb.org

Publication date & source: 2002-11-30, Lancet., 360(9347):1722-7.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: Cholera is a major public-health problem, with children most affected. However, effective single-dose antimicrobial regimens have been identified only for adults. Our aim was to compare the efficacy of azithromycin and erythromycin regimens in the treatment of children. METHODS: We did a double-blind, randomised study of 128 severely dehydrated children (age 1-15 years) with cholera, treated at one of two treatment centres in Bangladesh in 1999. Children were assigned single-dose azithromycin (20 mg/kg bodyweight, maximum individual dose 1 g; n=65) or 12.5 mg/kg erythromycin (maximum dose 500 mg; n=63) every 6 h for 3 days. Patients stayed in hospital for 5 days. We measured fluid balance every 6 h, and obtained a rectal swab or stool sample for culture daily. Our primary outcome measures were clinical success of treatment-ie, cessation of watery diarrhoea within 48 h-and bacteriological success-ie, absence of Vibrio cholerae O1 or O139 from cultures of stool or rectal swab samples after study day 2. Analysis was per protocol. FINDINGS: Two children in both groups withdrew from the study, and we excluded one child in the erythromycin group. Treatment was clinically successful in 48 (76%) patients who received azithromycin and 39 (65%) who received erythromycin (difference 11%, 95% CI -5 to 27, p=0.244); and bacteriologically successful in 45 (71%) and 49 (82%) patients, respectively (10%, -5 to 25, p=0.261). Patients treated with azithromycin had a shorter duration of diarrhoea (median 24 h vs 42 h; difference 12 h, 0-18 h, p=0.019) and fewer episodes of vomiting (1 vs 4; difference 1 episode, 0-3 episodes, p=0.023). INTERPRETATION: Single-dose azithromycin is as effective for treatment of cholera in children as standard erythromycin therapy, but is associated with less vomiting.

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