South African Medical Journal

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Effectiveness of shortcourse quinine and singledose sulfadoxinepyrimethamine in the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Eugene Athan, David N. Dürrheim, Karen Barnes, Nicros M. Mngomezulu, Aaron Mabuza, John Govere


Introduction. Quinine therapy for 7 days remains the mainstay for treating hospitalised malaria cases in South Africa. However, limited resources, including available beds and staff, often result in early discharge of non-severe cases, with quinine tablets for outpatient use. The effectiveness of shorter course quinine therapy coupled with a long-acting antimalarial drug has never been established in Africa, in particular in a population without malaria immunity.

Methods. A study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a 3-day course of therapy with quinine sulphate (10 mg/ kg 8-hourly) followed by a single dose of sulfadoxinepyrimethamine (SP) according to weight category, before discharge, for 133 hospitalised patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria at Shongwe Hospital, Mpumalanga province, between February and July 1998. Study endpoints included clinical recovery and parasitological cure, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) 42 days after initiating treatment.

Results. One hundred and thirty of 131 patients (99%) successfully followed up for 42 days demonstrated clinical and parasitological cure. The remaining patient, who had evidence of a recrudescent infection on PCR, was 1 of 61 patients who were still parasitaemic on discharge from hospital.

Conclusion. The abbreviated course of quinine therapy coupled with a single dose of SP for the treatment of nonsevere hospitalised cases of P. falciparum malaria, in an area with demonstrated low levels of SP resistance, was highly effective. This approach has potential benefits, including reduced duration of hospitalisation, fewer quinine-associated adverse events and protection against the evolution of quinine resistance by limiting unsupervised quinine therapy in the community. It may, however, be prudent to document a negative blood film before discharge from hospital.

AJOL African Journals Online