• Melarsoprol Versus Eflornithine for Treating Late-stage Gambian Trypanosomiasis in the Republic of the Congo.

      Balasegaram, M; Harris, S; Checchi, F; Ghorashian, S; Hamel, C; Karunakara, U; Medecins Sans Frontieres, London, England. manica.balasigaram@london.msf.org (Published by WHO, 2006-10)
      OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of melarsoprol and eflornithine in treating late-stage Gambian trypanosomiasis in the Republic of the Congo. METHODS: We analysed the outcomes of death during treatment and relapse within 1 year of discharge for 288 patients treated with eflornithine, 311 patients treated with the standard melarsoprol regimen and 62 patients treated with a short-course (10-day) melarsoprol regimen between April 2001 and April 2005. FINDINGS: A total of 1.7% (5/288) of patients treated with eflornithine died compared with 4.8% (15/311) of those treated with standard melarsoprol and 6.5% (4/62) of those treated with short-course melarsoprol. Patients treated with eflornithine tended to be younger and were more likely to have trypanosomes or higher white blood cell counts in their cerebrospinal fluid. The cumulated incidence of relapse among patients who attended at least one follow-up visit 1 year after discharge was 8.1% (11/136) for those treated with eflornithine, 14% (36/258) for those treated with standard melarsoprol and 15.5% (9/58) for those treated with shortcourse melarsoprol. In a multivariate analysis, when compared with eflornithine, standard melarsoprol was found to be a risk factor for both death (odds ratio (OR) = 2.87; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.03-8.00) and relapse (hazard ratio (HR) = 2.47; 95% CI = 1.22-5.03); when compared with eflornithine, short-course melarsoprol was also found to be a risk factor for death (OR = 3.90; 95% CI = 1.02-14.98) and relapse (HR = 6.65; 95% CI = 2.61-16.94). CONCLUSION: The effectiveness of melarsoprol treatment appears to have diminished. Eflornithine seems to be a better first-line therapy for treating late-stage Gambian trypanosomiasis in the Republic of the Congo.
    • Treatment Outcomes and Risk Factors for Relapse in Patients with Early-stage Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) in the Republic of the Congo.

      Balasegaram, M; Harris, S; Checchi, F; Hamel, C; Karunakara, U; Medecins Sans Frontieres, London, England. manica.balasigaram@london.msf.org (Published by WHO, 2006-10)
      OBJECTIVE: In 2002-03, the Republic of the Congo increased the threshold separating stage 1 and 2 cases of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) from a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) white cell count of 5 cells/mm(3) to 10 cells/mm(3). We aimed to assess whether the increased threshold of 10 cells/mm(3) is a safe indicator of stage 2 disease. METHODS: We assessed patients treated for stage 1 HAT caused by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense in the Republic of the Congo between April 2001 and April 2005. Patients with 0-10 cells/mm(3) in CSF were classed as stage 1 and treated with pentamidine. Patients with CSF of > 10 cells/mm(3) were classed as stage 2 and treated with either melarsoprol or eflornithine. We did a retrospective analysis of all patients treated after the September 2002 increase in threshold for classification of HAT disease stage 2, and who were eligible for at least 1 year of follow-up. Primary outcome was survival without death or relapse within 1 year of discharge. Risk factors for treatment failure, in particular CSF white cell count on diagnosis, were assessed. FINDINGS: Between September 2002 to April 2004, 692 patients eligible for our analysis were treated with pentamidine. All were discharged alive. Relapse rate was 5% (n = 33). The only identified risk factor for relapse was a CSF white cell count of 6-10 cells/mm(3) rather than 0-5 cells/mm(3) (adjusted hazard ratio 3.27 (95% confidence interval, 1.52-7.01); P = 0.002). CONCLUSION: A threshold of 5 white cells/mm(3) in CSF is safer than 10 cells/mm(3) to determine stage 2 HAT and reduce risk of relapse.