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Open Access Research

Open-label trial with artemether-lumefantrine against uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria three years after its broad introduction in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia

Teferi Eshetu12, Nasir Abdo3, Kunuz H Bedru3, Sintayehu Fekadu4, Andreas Wieser5, Michael Pritsch16, Thomas Löscher1 and Nicole Berens-Riha16*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Medical Center of the University of Munich (LMU), Leopoldstrasse 5, 80802, Munich, Germany

2 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and Pathology, Jimma University (JU), Jimma, Ethiopia

3 Jimma Zone Health Bureau, Jimma, Ethiopia

4 Department of Internal Medicine, Jimma University (JU), Jimma, Ethiopia

5 Max von Pettenkofer-Institute of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology, Munich, Germany

6 German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) at LMU, Munich, Germany

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:240  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-240

Published: 23 July 2012

Abstract

Background

In Jimma Zone, Ethiopia, the first-line treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria has been changed from sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to artemether-lumefantrine (AL) in 2006. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of AL in Jimma Zone two to three years after its broad introduction.

Methods

An open-label, single-arm, 42-day study of AL against falciparum malaria was conducted in four areas with moderate transmission in Jimma Zone between November 2008 and January 2009 and between August and December 2009. Patients (one-81 years) with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum mono-infection were consecutively enrolled. Follow-up visits were at day 2, 3, 7, 28 and 42 or any other day if symptoms reoccurred. Primary and secondary endpoints were PCR-corrected and uncorrected cure rates (molecular differentiation between recrudescence and re-infection) on days 28 and 42. Other secondary endpoints were gametocytaemia at day 7 and day 28, parasitaemia at day 2 and 3, and re-infection rates at day 28 and day 42.

Results

Of 348 enrolled patients, 313 and 301 completed follow-up at day 28 and at day 42, respectively. No early treatment failure occurred. For per protocol analysis, PCR-uncorrected cure rates at day 28 and 42 were 99.1% (95% CI 98.0-100.0) and 91.1% (95% CI 87.9-94.3), respectively. PCR-corrected cure rates at day 28 and 42 were 99.4% (95% CI 98.5-100.0) and 94.7% (95% CI 92.2-97.2), respectively. PCR-corrected cure rate at day 42 for children ≤5 years was 90.6% (95% CI 82.4-98.7) only. Adverse events were in general mild to moderate. Incidence of new infections was 3.4% during 42 days, no new infections with Plasmodium vivax were observed. Microscopically detected gametocytaemia was reduced by 80% between day 0 and day 7.

Conclusion

In general, AL was effective and well tolerated in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia. However, the PCR-corrected recrudescence rate per-protocol at day 42 for children ≤5 years was 9.4%. Therefore, further development should be monitored on a regular basis as recommended by WHO.

Keywords:
Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Artemether-Lumefantrine; ACT; Ethiopia