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Research Article

Assessment of the Anthelmintic Efficacy of Albendazole in School Children in Seven Countries Where Soil-Transmitted Helminths Are EndemicA Standardised Protocol for Evaluation of Anthelminthic Efficacy


BackgroundThe three major soil-transmitted helminths (STH) Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and Necator americanus/Ancylostoma duodenale are among the most widespread parasites worldwide. Despite the global expansion of preventive anthelmintic treatment, standard operating procedures to monitor anthelmintic drug efficacy are lacking. The objective of this study, therefore, was to define the efficacy of a single 400 milligram dose of albendazole (ALB) against these three STH using a standardized protocol.Methodology/Principal FindingsSeven trials were undertaken among school children in Brazil, Cameroon, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Tanzania and Vietnam. Efficacy was assessed by the Cure Rate (CR) and the Fecal Egg Count Reduction (FECR) using the McMaster egg counting technique to determine fecal egg counts (FEC). Overall, the highest CRs were observed for A. lumbricoides (98.2%) followed by hookworms (87.8%) and T. trichiura (46.6%). There was considerable variation in the CR for the three parasites across trials (country), by age or the pre-intervention FEC (pre-treatment). The latter is probably the most important as it had a considerable effect on the CR of all three STH. Therapeutic efficacies, as reflected by the FECRs, were very high for A. lumbricoides (99.5%) and hookworms (94.8%) but significantly lower for T. trichiura (50.8%), and were affected to different extents among the 3 species by the pre-intervention FEC counts and trial (country), but not by sex or age.Conclusions/SignificanceOur findings suggest that a FECR (based on arithmetic means) of >95% for A. lumbricoides and >90% for hookworms should be the expected minimum in all future surveys, and that therapeutic efficacy below this level following a single dose of ALB should be viewed with concern in light of potential drug resistance. A standard threshold for efficacy against T. trichiura has yet to be established, as a single-dose of ALB is unlikely to be satisfactory for this parasite.Trial RegistrationClinicalTrials.gov NCT01087099Author SummarySoil-transmitted helminths (roundworms, whipworms and hookworms) infect millions of children in (sub)tropical countries, resulting in malnutrition, growth stunting, intellectual retardation and cognitive deficits. Currently, there is a need to closely monitor anthelmintic drug efficacy and to develop standard operating procedures, as highlighted in a World Health Organization–World Bank meeting on “Monitoring of Drug Efficacy in Large Scale Treatment Programs for Human Helminthiasis” in Washington DC at the end of 2007. Therefore, we have evaluated the efficacy of a commonly used treatment against these parasitic infections in school children in Africa, Asia and South-America using a standardized protocol. In addition, different statistical approaches to analyzing the data were evaluated in order to develop standardized procedures for data analysis. The results demonstrate that the applied treatment was highly efficacious against round- and hookworms, but not against whipworms. However, there was large variation in efficacy across the different trials which warrants further attention. This study also provides new insights into the statistical analysis of efficacy data, which should be considered in future monitoring and evaluation studies of large scale anthelmintic treatment programs. Finally, our findings emphasize the need to update the World Health Organization recommended efficacy threshold for the treatment of STH.