In sub-Saharan Africa the recommended strategy to control schistosomiasis is preventive chemotherapy. Emphasis is placed on school-aged children, but in high endemicity areas, preschool-aged children are also at risk, and hence might need treatment with praziquantel. Since a pediatric formulation (e.g., syrup) is not available outside of Egypt, crushed praziquantel tablets are used, but the efficacy and safety of this treatment regimen is insufficiently studied.
We assessed the efficacy and safety of crushed praziquantel tablets among preschool-aged children (<6 years) in the Azaguié district, south Côte d'Ivoire, where Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium coexist. Using a cross-sectional design, children provided two stool and two urine samples before and 3 weeks after treatment. Crushed praziquantel tablets, mixed with water, were administered at a dose of 40 mg/kg. Adverse events were assessed and graded 4 and 24 hours posttreatment by interviewing mothers/guardians.
Overall, 160 preschool-aged children had at least one stool and one urine sample examined with duplicate Kato-Katz thick smears and a point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen (POC-CCA) cassette for S. mansoni, and urine filtration for S. haematobium diagnosis before and 3 weeks after praziquantel administration. According to the Kato-Katz and urine filtration results, we found high efficacy against S. mansoni (cure rate (CR), 88.6%; egg reduction rate (ERR), 96.7%) and S. haematobium (CR, 88.9%; ERR, 98.0%). POC-CCA revealed considerably lower efficacy against S. mansoni (CR, 53.8%). Treatment was generally well tolerated, but moderately severe adverse events (i.e., body and face inflammation), were observed in four Schistosoma egg-negative children.
Crushed praziquantel administered to preschool-aged children at a dose of 40 mg/kg is efficacious against S. mansoni and S. haematobium in a co-endemic setting of Côte d'Ivoire. Further research is required with highly sensitive diagnostic tools and safety must be investigated in more depth.
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic worm infection that plagues more than 200 million people in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The current strategy to control schistosomiasis is to regularly administer the deworming drug praziquantel to school-aged children. Younger children before reaching school-age are not included in these deworming campaigns, because they are considered at low risk of schistosomiasis, and because the amount of available data to evaluate the safety of praziquantel in young children is insufficient. We conducted a study in two villages in southern Côte d'Ivoire and examined the stool and urine of more than 250 children (<6 years) for schistosome eggs and antigens. Children were treated with crushed praziquantel tablets (40 mg/kg) and the efficacy of this treatment was determined 3 weeks after treatment. The safety of the treatment was assessed by interviewing mothers of treated children for adverse events (e.g., abdominal pain, diarrhea, and headache). Complete data records were available for 160 children. Praziquantel cleared most of the infections. The treatment was generally well tolerated, but we observed four children who were not infected at the baseline survey who developed face and body inflammation that required close supervision by the study physician.