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Chemoprophylaxis of Onchocerca infections: in a controlled, prospective study ivermectin prevents calves becoming infected with O. ochengi.

Author(s): Tchakoute VL, Bronsvoort M, Tanya V, Renz A, Trees AJ

Affiliation(s): Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine/Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, UK.

Publication date & source: 1999-02, Parasitology., 118 ( Pt 2):195-9.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Onchocerciasis ('River Blindness'), caused by the filarial nematode Onchocerca volvulus is of major public health importance in West Africa. Ivermectin, a drug originally developed for veterinary use, is now being incorporated in control strategies but whilst it has potent efficacy against L1 larvae (microfilariae), ivermectin is not lethal to adult (L5) O. volvulus, nor to adults of the related cattle parasite O. ochengi. We have exploited this model to determine if ivermectin has prophylactic activity against naturally transmitted, O. ochengi infections in a controlled, prospective study in northern Cameroon. Calves were treated monthly with ivermectin at either 200 micrograms/kg or 500 micrograms/kg for 21 months. None of 15 treated calves developed adult worm infection, whereas 5/6 untreated controls became infected (P < 0.001) with a total of 54 O. ochengi nodules, and all 5 developed patent microfilaridermia. These results have significant implications for the use of ivermectin in humans, and suggest that strategic chemotherapy at times of maximal transmission will confer prophylactic as well as therapeutic benefits.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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