Mass administration of malaria drugs may cut morbidity during Ebola outbreaks




Mass administration of malaria chemoprevention during Ebola virus disease outbreaks may reduce cases of fever, according to a study published in PLOS ONE.

During the October-December 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Liberia, health care services were limited, negatively impacting malaria treatment. Hoping to reduce malaria-associated morbidity, investigators targeted four neighborhoods in Monrovia, Liberia – with a total population of 551,971 – for a mass drug administration (MDA) of malaria chemoprevention. MDA participants were divided into two treatment rounds, with 102,372 households verified as receiving treatment with the drug combination artesunate/amodiaquine by community leaders and a malaria committee in round 1, and 103,497 households verified in round 2.

©CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith

Incidences of self-reported fever episodes declined significantly after round 1 (1.5%), compared with the month prior to round 1 (4.2%) (P < .0001). Self-reported fever incidences in children younger than 5 years of age (6.9%) and in older household members (3.8%) both decreased, to 1.1% and 1.6%, respectively, after round 1 of the MDA.

The researchers also found that self-reported fever was 4.9% lower after round 1 in household members who took a full course of artesunate/amodiaquine malaria chemoprevention (ASAQ-CP) but only 0.6% lower among household members who did not start or not complete a full course of ASAQ-CP. Still, reported incidence of fever declined in both groups, although the risk difference (RD) was significantly larger among the group that took part in the ASAQ-CP course (P < .001).

“Despite high acceptance and coverage of the MDA and the small impact of side effects, initiation of malaria chemoprevention was low, possibly due to health messaging and behavior in the pre-Ebola outbreak period and the ongoing lack of health care services,” researchers concluded. “Combining MDAs during Ebola outbreaks with longer-term interventions to prevent malaria and to improve access to health care might reduce the proportion of respondents saving their treatment for future malaria episodes.”

Read the full study in PLOS ONE (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161311).

Next Article: