Efficacy of Primaquine in Preventing Short- and Long-Latency Plasmodium vivax Relapses in Nepal.
Rijal KR., Adhikari B., Ghimire P., Banjara MR., Das Thakur G., Hanboonkunupakarn B., Imwong M., Chotivanich K., Day NPJ., White NJ., Pukrittayakamee S.
BACKGROUND:Plasmodium vivax is the main cause of malaria in Nepal. Relapse patterns have not been characterized previously. METHODS:Patients with P. vivax malaria were randomized to receive chloroquine (CQ; 25 mg base/kg given over 3 days) alone or together with primaquine (PQ; 0.25 mg base/kg/day for 14 days) and followed intensively for 1 month, then at 1- to 2-month intervals for 1 year. Parasite isolates were genotyped. RESULTS:One hundred and one (49%) patients received CQ and 105 (51%) received CQ + PQ. In the CQ + PQ arm, there were 3 (4.1%) recurrences in the 73 patients who completed 1 year of follow-up compared with 22 of 78 (28.2%) in the CQ-only arm (risk ratio, 0.146 [95% confidence interval, .046-.467]; P < .0001). Microsatellite genotyping showed relatively high P. vivax genetic diversity (mean heterozygosity, 0.843 [range 0.570-0.989] with low multiplicity of infection (mean, 1.05) reflecting a low transmission preelimination setting. Of the 12 genetically homologous relapses, 5 (42%) occurred in a cluster after 9 months, indicating long latency. CONCLUSIONS:Although there may be emerging CQ resistance, the combination of CQ and the standard-dose 14-day PQ regimen is highly efficacious in providing radical cure of short- and long-latency P. vivax malaria in Nepal.