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BACKGROUND:Murine typhus, or infection with Rickettsia typhi, is a global but neglected disease without randomized clinical trials to guide antibiotic therapy. METHODS:A prospective, open, randomized trial was conducted in nonpregnant, consenting inpatient adults with rapid diagnostic test evidence of uncomplicated murine typhus at 2 hospitals in Vientiane, Laos. Patients were randomized to 7 days (D7) or 3 days (D3) of oral doxycycline or 3 days of oral azithromycin (A3). Primary outcome measures were fever clearance time and frequencies of treatment failure and relapse. RESULTS:Between 2004 and 2009, the study enrolled 216 patients (72 per arm); 158 (73.2%) had serology/polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed murine typhus, and 52 (24.1%) were R. typhi PCR positive. The risk of treatment failure was greater for regimen A3 (22.5%; 16 of 71 patients) than for D3 (4.2%; 3 of 71) or D7 (1.4%; 1 of 71) (P < .001). Among R. typhi PCR-positive patients, the area under the time-temperature curve and the fever clearance time were significantly higher for A3 than for D3 (1.8- and 1.9-fold higher, respectively; P = .005) and D7 (1.5- and 1.6-fold higher; P = .02). No patients returned with PCR-confirmed R. typhi relapse. CONCLUSION:In Lao adults, azithromycin is inferior to doxycycline as oral therapy for uncomplicated murine typhus. For doxycycline, 3- and 7-day regimens have similar efficacy. Azithromycin use in murine typhus should be reconsidered. Investigation of genomic and phenotypic markers of R. typhi azithromycin resistance is needed. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION:ISRCTN47812566.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/cid/ciy563

Type

Journal article

Journal

Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Publication Date

02/2019

Volume

68

Pages

738 - 747

Addresses

Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit, Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic.