• Failure of an Innovative Low-Cost, Noninvasive Thermotherapy Device for Treating Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Caused by in Pakistan.

      Kamink, S; Abdi, A; Kamau, C; Ashraf, S; Ansari, MA; Qureshi, NA; Schallig, H; Grobusch, MB; Fernhout, J; Ritmeijer, K (The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2019-10-07)
      Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), a neglected parasitic skin disease, is endemic in Pakistan, where Leishmania tropica and Leishmania major are the causative protozoan species. Standard treatment with antimonial injections is long, painful, and costly; has toxic side effects; and is not always available in public hospitals. Small pilot studies have previously evaluated a low-cost and noninvasive hand-held exothermic crystallization thermotherapy (HECT-CL) device. We aimed to further establish the effectiveness, safety, and feasibility of HECT-CL in L. tropica. In a prospective observational study, patients with parasitological confirmation of CL were treated using the HECT-CL heat pack for 3 minutes with an initial temperature of 52-53°C for 7 consecutive days. Dried blood spot samples were taken for species identification by PCR. Effectiveness was assessed by using medical photographs and measurements of the lesion size at baseline and subsequent follow-up visits, for up to 180 days. We intended to enroll 317 patients. The HECT-CL treatment was easy to apply and well tolerated. Species identification demonstrated the presence of L. tropica. Interim analysis of 56 patients showed a failure rate of 91% at follow-up (median 45 days after treatment, interquartile range 30-60 days). Enrollment of patients was prematurely suspended because of futility. This study showed a high failure rate for HECT-CL thermotherapy in this setting. Leishmania tropica is known to be less sensitive to antileishmanial drugs, more temperature-resistant, and spontaneous healing is slower than that in L. major. More research is needed to identify low-cost, effective, and more patient-friendly treatment for L. tropica.
    • Risks and seasonal pattern for mortality among hospitalized infants in a conflict-affected area of Pakistan, 2013-2016. A retrospective chart review.

      van Deursen, B; Lenglet, A; Ariti, C; Hussain, B; Karsten, J; Roggeveen, H; Price, D; Fernhout, J; Abdi, A; Carrion Martin, AI (F1000Research, 2019-06-24)
      Background: In recent years, Médecins Sans Frontières has observed high mortality rates among hospitalized infants in Pakistan. We describe the clinical characteristics of the infants admitted between 2013 and 2016 in order to acquire a better understanding on the risk factors for mortality. Methods: We analyzed routinely collected medical data from infants (<7 months) admitted in Chaman and Dera Murad Jamali (DMJ) hospitals. The association between clinical characteristics and mortality was estimated using Poisson regression. Results: Between 2013 and 2016, 5,214 children were admitted (male/female ratio: 1.60) and 1,178 (23%) died. Days since admission was associated with a higher risk of mortality and decreased with each extra day of admission after seven days. The first 48 hours of admission was strongly associated with a higher risk of mortality. A primary diagnosis of tetanus, necrotizing enterocolitis, prematurity, sepsis and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy were strongly associated with higher rates of mortality. We observed an annual peak in the mortality rate in September. Conclusions: The first days of admission are critical for infant survival. Furthermore, the found male/female ratio was exceedingly higher than the national ratio of Pakistan. The observed seasonality in mortality rate by week has not been previously reported. It is fully recommended to do further in-depth research on male/female ratio differences and the reasons behind the annual peaks in mortality rate by week.