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close this bookClinical Guidelines and Treatment Manual (MSF, 1993, 319 p.)
close this folderChapter 6 - Parasitic diseases
View the documentSchistosomiasis
View the documentIntestinal protozoa
View the documentNematodes
View the documentLiver flukes
View the documentCestodes
View the documentFilariasis
View the documentMalaria
View the documentTrypanosomiasis
View the documentLeishmaniasis



Intestinal protozoa




Liver flukes





Group of conditions caused by infection with various nematodes, the most common being Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa and Dracunculus medinensis. Adult forms of both sexes live and reproduce in human lymphatics, in the skin or in deep tissues. Their larvae, microfilariae, reach the blood or skin and are thus the infective form for biting vectors as well as being the form upon which diagnosis is based.

Transmission is by vector: mosquitoes for lymphatic filariasis (Bancroftian and Malayan), blackflies for onchocerciasis, Chrysops flies for loiasis and tiny crustaceans (Cyclops) for dracunculiasis (Guinea worm).

Clinical features and diagnosis

See table.

Symptomatic treatment

- Inflammatory symptoms: acetylsalicylic acid (PO): 3 g/d divided in 3 doses or indomethacin (PO): 75 mg/d divided in 3 doses

- If allergic symptoms develop (e.g. urticaria, pruritis) promethazine (PO): 75-100 mg/d divided in 3-4 doses; child: 1 mg/kg/d divided in 3 doses or chlorpheniramine(PO):12 mg/d divided in 3 doses

Antiparasitic treatment


The main drug used is diethylcarbamazine, often abbreviated to DEC. It is essentially a microfilariacide and may not kill all adult worms. Therapy with DEC should always be supervised as the drug is often poorly tolerated (allergic reactions). Dosages should start low and be increased progressively. DEC is contraindicated during pregnancy. Usual presentation is in 50 mg tablets.


Adult: commence with 25 mg/d divided in 2 doses (= 1/8 tab x 2/d). Increase progressively by doubling the dose each day until the 5th day, dose is 200 mg x 2/d=2 tab x 2/d) x 10 days.

Child: 3 mg/kg x 2/d x 10 days, to be reached progressively over 5 days.

A second therapeutical course can be repeated after 10 days.


In this infection diethylcarbamazine can cause a fatal encephalitis or allergic shock. Much care is needed. Reinfection after treatment is very common, so if symptoms are mild, it may be better to withold therapy. Dosage can be adjusted to extent of infestation
(beyond 50,000 microfilaria/ml blood: +++ caution).

Where treatment considered essential because of severity of infection: diethylcarbamazine

Adult: 3 mg x 2/d (= 1/32 tab x 2/d) the 1st day increasing progressively till in seven days 200 mg x 2/day (= 2 tab x 2/day) x 21 days.

Child: begin progressively to reach in seven days 3 mg/kg x 2/d x 21 days.

Always give antihistamines in association.

If promethazine does not control reactions to treatment, treat with prednisone (or prednisolone): 15-30 mg/d in a single dose x 3-5 days, then decrease progressively. If necessary, dexamethasone IV or IM: 4-20 mg / kg.

Note: where Loiasis is endemic (West Africa), all treatment with diethylcarbamazine, should commence with 3 mg/kg x 2 days (protocole for Loiasis) whatever form of filaria is being treated. This is to avoid the sometimes fatal complications of inopportune treatment where there is also unrecognised associated loiasis.


The treatment of choice is ivermectin (Mectizar), microfilaricide, 6 mg tablets.



micrograms/kg stat:

15-25 kg:

1/2 tab

26-44 kg:

1 tab

45-64 kg:

1.5 tab

65-84 kg:

2 tab

The recommended long term management of communities is one dose every 6 months the first year, then a single dose annually.

Contraindications: child < 5 years, pregnant women, women in their first week of breast feeding.

Side efects are due to lysis of microfilaria (allergic manifestations, pain, fever) and respond well to antihistamines and acetyl salicylic acid. Rarely orthostatic hypotension occurs but responds to injected cofficosteroids (single dose or 1-2 days).

There is no problem with associated filarias even Loiasis.

If ivermectin not available: diethylcarbamazine in dosage for lymphatic filariosis.


This should be abandonned as too dangerous.

Prevention Prophylaxis

- See table.

- Individual chemoprophylaxis for Loiasis is possible, 100 mg diethylcarbamazine PO/week in a single dose (or 2 doses of 50 mg/week). It is indicated for non residents going to an endemic zone provided, they are not already infected with Loiasis (risk of serious reactions).



Parasitic infection due to protozoa of the genus Plasmodium transmitted by the female anophylus mosquito. There are four plasmodial species: P. Falciparum, P. Vivax, P. Malariae, P. Ovale.

Clinical features


- 9 to 13 days for Falciparum.

- More than 15 days for the other three forms.


Continuous fever + malaise + headache +/- gastro-intestinal problems. Consider it in endemic zones.


Shivering, fever ("heat"), sweating, headache, bodyaches. Theoretically, every two days for Falciparum, Vivax, Ovale and every 3 days for Malariae


- Uniquely due to Falciparum

Occurs especially in the non-immune: new subjects, non-residents, children < 5 years, pregnant women, debilitated patients; or in subjects living in a zone of seasonal transmission.

- Associated, in varying degrees, with the following clinical signs

· Cerebral signs: mental clouding, coma (lasting more than 1/2 hour in children following a convulsion), convulsions (more than 2 times/24 heures in children in the age range for febrile convulsions), delirium, localising signs.

· Haemolysis (jaundice is rare in children), haemorrhagic syndrome (sometimes C.I.V.D.).

· Renal signs (rare in children) have bad prognosis: oliguria, anuria.

· Hypoglycaemia: especially in children and pregnant women.

· Pulmonary edema: especially in adults; almost always fatal.

· Hyperpyrexia: T > 40.5°C.

· Macroscopic haemoglobinuria.


Due particularly to Falciparum, sometimes Vivax. Usually in children.

Associated with febrile episodes, severe anaemia with pancytopenia, wasting, constant splenomegaly.

Necessary to make repeated staned slides as the protozoa are less numerous.


Diagnosis is made by presence of protozoa in the blood: thick and thin slides should be made in endemic zones for every fever > 38.5°C.

Note that blood films may be negative, even in a severe attack
(pernicious) because of sequestration or parasites in the deep capillaries.


Principal antimalarials

- Quinine

· Tablets 100 to 500 mg
Indications: following IV treatment or a final trial (except in pregnant women inzones of multiresistance).
Side effects: tinnitus, rarely giddiness, nausea, vomiting.
Not recommended for prophylaxis.

· Ampoules: available from 60 mg to 300 mg/ml. Never by IV, either infusion or IM (although IM injection can be given in cases absolute necessity, numerous complications can occur: sciatic nerve paralysis, muscle necrosis, infection).
Indications: try to reserve quinine by injection for serious cases of malaria.
No contraindications.

- Chloroquine(Nivaquine)

· Tablets 100 and 150 mg base
Indications: Vivax, Malariae, Ovale and uncomplicated attacks of sensitive
Side effects: pruritis is common in black skinned patients
(non-allergic and unresponsive to antihistamines), rarely gastro-intestinal disorders.
Used for prophylaxis.

· Ampoules 40 and 50 mg base/ml. Never by IV, either IM or SC or infusion.
Note: the doses for injection are weaker than oral doses.
Indications: severe vomiting or serious chloroquine-sensitive malarial. No contraindications.

- Amodiaquine(Flavoquine)

· Tablet 200 mg
Active against some chloroquine-resistant varieties. Abandoned because of its toxicity (agranulocytosis, hepatitis).
Must not be used for prophylaxis.

- Pyrimethamine-sulphadoxine(Fansidar)

· Tablet with 500 mg of sulphadoxine + 25 mg of pyrimethamine, orally

· Ampoule with 200 mg of sulphadoxine + 10 mg of pyrimethamine/ml
(= 400 + 20/amp of 2 ml); IM (never IV)

Indications: treatment of simple attacks of Falciparum (in zones of intermediate resistance as 1st or 2nd choice.

Side effects: rare but serious: Lyell syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, agranulocytosis, especially when used for prophylaxis.

Contraindications: pregnancy or breast feeding, children < 2 years (avoid before 5 years).

Should be abandoned as prophylaxis. Not to be given in association with chloroquine (antagonism) or with mefloquine.

- Mefloquine (Lariam) (veryexpensive)

· Tablets 50 and 250 mg

Indications: simple attacks of multiresistant Falciparum (as 1st choice in zone III as 2nd or 3rd choice elsewhere).

Side effects: giddiness and digestive disturbances are common; rarely, acute psychosis, encephalopathy with convulsions, transitory but serious.

Contraindications: epilepsy, history of psychiatric disturbances, avoid in pregnant women.

Its use for prophylaxis is limited by its side effects.

- Halofantrine (Halfan) (very expensive)

· Tablet 250 mg

Tablets should be taken with a fatty accompaniment
Indications: simple attacks of multiresistant Falciparum (as 1st choice in zone III, as 2nd or 3rd choice elsewhere)

Side effects: unobstrusive (pruritis, gastro-intestinal disturbances).

Contraindications: pregnancy or breast feeding.

Unusable for prophylaxis.

- Tetracyclin

· Tablet 250 mg

Indications: associated with quinine in areas where the Plasmodium

Falciparum is becoming less sensible to quinine (zone III), use only in severe malaria when the patient is able to swalow.

Side effects: nausea, vomiting, photosensitization.
Contraindications: pregnancy and breast feeding, children < 8 years old.

Cannot be used as prophylaxis.

- Doxycyclin

· Tablet 100 mg Indications, side effects, contraindications: idem tetracyclin.
Usable for prophylaxis.

- Proguanil(Paludrine)

· Tablet 100 mg
Only usable for prophylaxis in association with chloroquine including pregnant women and children.
Very few side effects. No contraindications.

- Primaquine: gametocytocide

· Tablet 15 mg
Indications: avoidance of relapses of Vivax and Ovale. Toxic: methaemoglobinaemia, haemolysis where G6PD deficiency exists
(common in Africans,Asiatics and those of Mediterranean origin).
Contraindications: pregnancy and in G6PD deficiency.
In practice, few indications (expatriates leaving an endemic zone or where demanded by national rules, especially as resistance to it has been described).

Drug resistance of P. Falciparum


- Before speaking of resistance, verify:

· that treatment has in fact been taken,

· that the correct dose for weight has been prescribed,

· the absence of important diarrhoea and whether there has been vomiting within one hour of taking medication,

· the expiry date of the medication,

· that there has not been under-dosage due to confusion between the expression of the dosage as a chloroquine base and as a chloroquine salt(1).

- There must evidently be a Falciparum positive blood slide on the first and third days of treatment, slides which have been theoretically quantified. There is no chloroquine resistance with
P. Vivax, Malariae or Ovale.

- If resistance is suspected, follow the recommendatios for the country concerned.

WHO has done in vivo testing which is rarely possible in routine practice.

- WHO classifies resistance to chloroquine into 3 types. Schematically:

· Early and late R 1: total disappearance followed by reappearance of the parasite

· R 2: noticeable fall without diseappearance of the parasite

· R 3: parasite level almost unchanged, indeed, increased

- Zones of resistance: see map. There is resistance to chloroquine almost everywhere where Falciparum rages and is more or less frequent depending on the country. Schematically, 3 zones can be distinguished:

· Zone I
Chloroquine sensitivity retained. Certain West African countries, Central America except for Panama.

· Zone II
Spreading pockets of resistance, often of low level (R1). East Africa, Northern India, part of West Africa.

· Zone III
Numerous chloroquine resistant areas of raised level (R2-R3). Multiresistances. South East Asia, part of India and Pakistan, Polynesia, South America.


- Resistance to sulphadoxin-pyrimethamine (Fansidar), although less frequent, has for several years followed closely the distribution of chloroquine resistance. Very extensive in South East Asia and Brazil.


- Resistance to quinine (type R1) and mefloquine, also exist principally in South East Asia.


Treatment of primary or uncomplicated attack

- Always use national guidelines. This is essential in countries where drug resistance occurs.

- For Vivax, Malariae, Ovale and for Falciparum in zone I (chloroquine-sensitive):

Adult: 600 mg base then 300 mg base at H6, D2 and D3
Child: 10 mg base/kg then 5 mg base/kg at H6, D2 and D3
Or a total of 1.5 g for an adult and 25 mg/kg for a child.

- For Falciparum in zone II (intermediate resistance)

· either chloroquine as first choice (eventually 10 mg/kg on D1, D2 then 5 mg/kg on D3, D4, D5) and in case of failure, sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine:

Adult: 3 tab in a single dose
Child: 1/2 tab/10 kg in a single dose

· or sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine as first choice. Theoretically, mefloquine or halofantrine are only used in cases of chloroquine and/or sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine failure, with quinine as the last recourse. In practice, account must be taken of national guidelines, availability and cost.

- For Falciparum in zone III

· either mefloquine
Adult and child: 15 mg/kg then 10mg/kg 8 hours later; repeat the dose if vomiting occurs less than one hour after medicament taken.

In children, if the temperature is lowered before taking the medicine (antipyretics, cold bath), this will decrease the frequency of early vomiting.

· or (especially in pregnancy): quinine: 30 mg/kg/d divided in 3 doses x 7 days
in association with tetracyclin:

Adult: 1.5-2g/d x 7 days
Child > 8 years: 50 mg/kg/d x 7 days

Tetracyclin is usually contraindicated in pregnancy or breast feeding and children < 8 years, but the vital risk serious malaria makes this a secondary consideration.

· or halofantrine (rarely available becaue of cost)

Adult: 3 doses of 500 mg at 6 hourly intervaals
Child: 3 doses of 8 mg/kg at 6 hourly intervals

It should be reserved for cases where resistance has been proven.
The ingestion of halofantrine concurrently with fats doubles or trebles its absorption.

Treatment of serious malaria

- Quinine as an infusion remains the treatment of choice in every zone. Commence with a loading dose of 20 mg/kg in an isotonic solution (if possible 5 % glucose) over 4 hours, then 10 mg/kg every 8 hours (or better, 4 hours with quinine, 4 hours through indwelling venous needle), until such time as the patient can swallow. Then change to oral medication for the remainder of the 7 days.

- SIf the patient has received quinine or mefloquine in the previous 24 hours without vomiting a loading dose will not be given (cardiac toxicity).

- If injection is not possible, use quinine IM in zones II or III in the same doses.

- In zone III, complete therapy with tetracycline.

- In zone I, chloroquine as IM (antero-lateral thigh) or SC can be used in place of quinine. Dosage: 3.5 mg base/kg every 6 hours or as an infusion: 10 mg/kg in an isotonic solution over 8 hours, then 5 mg/kg/8 hours. Transfer to oral therapy as soon as possible. The total dose should be 25 mg/kg.


- Convulsions: diazepam IV or IR (see "Convulsions"). For prevention, use with phenobarbital.

- Infusion: guard against excessive hydration if not sure of the integrity of renal function. Do not exceed 2,000-2,500 ml/days in adults and 40-50 ml/kg in children, except where there is presenting dehydration which needs to be corrected.

- Transfusion where there is profound or porrly tolerated anaemia (Hb < 5 mg/ml or haematocrit < 15 %). Check for HIV if possible.

- Safe position and nursing in case of coma, nasogastric feeding.

- Record urine output: if < 400 ml/day in adults or 12 ml/kg/day in children; regard patient as anuric. This normally requires fluid restriction. To avoid decreasing the perfusion rhythm and therefore the planned doses of quinine, attempt to initiate a diuresis with frusemide IV (ampoule 10 mg/ml, 2 ml) at the rate of 2 ampoules of 20 mg as required (do not exceed 250 mg in 100 ml of 5 % glucose administered over 20-30 minutes in adults; in children, the dose is 1 mg/kg/inj. repeated every 4-6 hours depending on the evolution).

- Hypoglycaemia: when an doubt, especially in children or pregnant women, give 20-50 ml of 30 % or 50 % glucose. Hypoglycaemia often relapses. In practice, in children, the perfusion of 80 ml/kg/day of 5 % glucose prevents the hypoglycaemia induced by quinine.

- OAP: frusemide.

- Antipyretics as necessary.

Specific case: treatment of a simple infection in a non-immune subject (expatriate) and in pregnant women

- Falciparum infection

· In sensitive zones: chloroquine.

Adult: 600 mg base then 300 mg base at H6, D2, D3, D4 and D5 (= 2.1 g)
Child:10 mg base/kg then 5 mg base/kg at H6, D2, D3, D4 and D5 (= 35 mg base/kg)
Adult: 500 mg base/ d x 5 days (= 2.5 g)
Child: 10 mg base/kg/d x 5 days (= 50 mg base/kg)

· In resistant zones
either mefloquine: the protocol is the same as for protected subjects except for adults > 60 kg who must take 750 mg, 500 mg, 250 mg at 8 hourly intervals (= 3 tab, 2 tab, 1 tab).
or halofantrine: the same protocol as for protected subjects.

· Pregnant women

- In sensitive zones: chloroquine
- In resistant zones: quinine (follower by mefloquine if this fails)

- Vivax, Malariae or Ovale infections chloroquine



- Reserved for expatriates, and depending on the national protocol, for pregnant women.

- Depends on the region to which they are going: see the maps which follow.

- Depends on the length of stay, the season (transmission or not), the presence or absence of resistant Falciparum.

- Protection against anopheles:
These measures must assume increasing importance:

· mosquito sprays impregnated with pyrethrinoid (permethrine or deltamethrine),

· long sleeves, long trousers and dark clothing at night,

· repellents,

· slow combustion anti mosquito coils.

- Information regarding prevention.

- Chemoprophylaxis: does not prevent infection with malaria but may avoid a serious attack. Commence the eve or day of departure and always continue for 6 weeks after return.

· In zone I
chloroquine: 100 mg base/day, 6 days each week, or 300 mg in a single dose each week.

· In zone II
chloroquine: 100 mg base/day, 6 days each week, in association with Proguanil 200 mg/day (in 1 or 2 doses).

· In zone III
Several possibilities depending on the situation. There is no 100 % efficacious drug. nor any without side-effects.

either take mefloquine 250 mg (1 tab) 1 time/week only during the transmission season, or throughout the entire stay if this does not exceed 12 weeks; or where the stay does not exceed 1 month, take doxycyclin 100 mg (= 1 tab) each day, every day;

or take nothing, but carry at all times an effective treatment (mefloquine, halofantrine, quinine) to be taken if any symptoms suggestive of malaria appear.

Check with microscopic examination of the blood any time this is possible.

- Chemoprophylaxis incorrectly taken means lack of protections.

- Prophylaxis with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine must be abandoned.


It is necessary to carry further the battle against the anopheles mosquito, since mass chemoprophylaxis is no longer recommended (development of resistance, slowing or suppression of protection), except in pregnant women.




African trypanosomiasis = sleeping sickness

- African trypanosomiasis is caused by a flagellated protozoan, which is transmitted to humans by the tsetse fly (Glossina spp)

- There are two species of the parasite, each having a different geographical distribution:

· Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (West Africa)
· T. b. rhodesiense (East Africa)

Clinical features

Clinical manifestations of infections with the two species are similar, except that T. b. rhodesiense infections tend to run a more rapid course.

- Primary stage: sometimes a painless chancre appears at site of bite. Incubation period very variable (days to years).

- Blood stage: fever, adenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly and facial edema. Presence of trypanosomes in blood and in lymph: gland puncture, blood film

- Cerebral stage: chronic meningoencephalomyelitis

· "Sleeping sickness": psychiatric, motor and sensory signs

· Disturbed sleep pattern: hepatosplenomegaly and adenopathy may resolve, blood film becomes negative for trypanosomes, specific serology positive, CSF (raised numbers of lymphocytes (> 5/mm3), raised protein, sometimes presence of trypanosomes, CATT test on serum, Elisa or CSF).

- Other manifestations: T. b. rhodesiense infections may be complicated by a fatal myocarditis.


A trypanosomiasis control program must only be conducted in coordination with national health authorities. Consult specialized documents or monographs. Elements:

- Active case detection and treatment.

- Vector control.

- Notification of cases to health authorities (surveillance).


The choice of regimen is based upon the results of CSF examination. If CSF is normal, the disease is considered to be in the blood stage. Abnormal CSF indicates cerebral involvement.

Table 13

Therapy should of course follow national guidelines. Refer also to the WHO monograph (Technical Report Series 739).

Where resistance to melarsoprol develops, use nifurtimox according to national guidelines or DFMO.

Ameriacan trypanosomiasis = Chagas' disease

Disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted to humans through the feces of infected reduviid bugs, which live in cracks in walls. T. cruzi infects humans via skin lesions (scratches, or bug bite) or mucus membranes, especially the conjunctivae.

Clinical features

- Incubation:10 to 20 days

- Acute phase:

· Chagoma: chancre, often on face
· Unilateral edema of the eyelid and adenopathy
· Persistent fever, generalized adenopathy
· Acute myocarditis: chest pain, CCF
· Hepatosplenomegaly
· Meningoencephalitis: paralyses, convulsions

- Chronic phase (after a long latent period):

· Chronic cardiomyopathy: arrythmias, CCF, angina
· Megacolon, megaesophagus


- Acute phase:

· blood slide: often difficult to find the parasite.

· Xenodiagnosis: examination of the feces of reduvid bugs that have fed upon the patients blood.

- Chronic phase: serology.

Treatment (dispensary - hospital)

- In spite of progress, treatment for T. cruzi infections is not entirely satisfactory. The drug of choice is at present: nifurtimox(PO): 8 to 10 mg/kg/d divided in 3 doses x 3-4 months.

· No alcohol during therapy (Antabuse effect)

· Give prednisone ou prednisolone (PO): 1 to 2 mg/kg/day at the same time and taper off gradually.

NB: this use of corticosteroids is controversial: some sources claim it can exacerbate the disease.
Side effects (may be severe): gastritis, agitation, convulsions, tremor, paraesthesiae.

· Contraindications: pregnancy, history of convulsions.

- benzonidazole(PO): 5 to 8 mg/kg/day x 30 days.

· Side effects: rash, peripheral neuritis

Indications for therapy

- Both drugs are active during the acute phase.
Only benzonidazole has an effect during the chronic phase.

- Give supportive treatment of convulsions, CCF and pain.


- Mosquito nets.

- Vector control (insecticides): residual insecticides.

- Improved housing: plastered walls, corrugated iron rooves, cemented floors all reduce the vector habitat (thatch, small cracks in mud).


Parasitic infection of humans and certain animal hosts caused by flagellate protozoans, Leishmania spp, transmitted by the bite of infected female Phlebotomus sandflies. Two major forms:

- Cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis

· Old World, also known as oriental sore (also by many other local names). Occurs in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Ethiopia, India.

· New World, also known as espundia or mucocutaneous form, occurs in South America and Africa (Ethiopia...).

- Visceral leishmaniasis, or Kala-Azar

· Occurs in the Middle East, Mediterranean, India, East Africa, China, Latin America.

Clinical features


- Incubation 2 to 4 months; single or multiple lesions appear on exposed areas of skin. Starts as a papule, which then extends in circumference and depth to form a crusty ulceration (dry form).

- Wet forms tend to evolve more quickly.

- Lesions tend to resolve spontaneously, leaving a scar.

- Lesion can extend to mucus membranes (mouth, nose, conjuntivae) and can be very mutilating (mucocutaneous form).


- Persistent fever, pallor, anemia, weight loss, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly; sometimes adenopathy, diarrhea and hemorrhage.

- Raised ESR, raised gammaglobulins.

- If untreated, is invariably fatal.

- Serology: test for Kala-Azar (direct agglutination, clot Elisa. Always confirm by looking directly for parasites. Serology is of no value in cutaneous forms (false -, false +).


- By indentification of Leishmania from skin lesions (cutaneous forms), or from blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes or spleen (kala-azar).

- May-Grunwald-Giemsa stain: parasites are intracellular and seen within histiocytes.


- The main drugs are antimony compounds:
meglumine antimonate(amp 5 ml = 1.5 g in IM): 50 mg/kg/d x 10 to 15 days
sodium stibogluconate (amp. 1 ml = 100 mg in IM or IV):



Child under 5 years:

2 ml/day

Child 5 to 14 years:

4 ml/day

Duration of 30 days, except with Indian kala-azar which is treated for 6 days only.

· Idiosyncratic reactions: fever, chills, cough, myalgia and rash. These reactions can be fatal so stop therapy if any of these symptoms appear.

· Therapy must be closely supervised as toxicity may appear late and is serious. Signs of toxicity are: fever, chills, cough, rash, polyneuritis, cardiac failure and renal failure.

- pentamidine (amp. 3 ml = 120 mg in IM): 2 to 4 mg/kg x 6 injections every 48 hours The patient should be supine during and after the injections as they can cause either hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.

Indications (hospital)

- Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Both meglumine antimonate and sodium stibogluconate promote healing but are not without danger.

· Systemic meglumine antimonate (course of IM injections) can be reserved for serious cases.

· For single lesions, or a small number of small lesions, local therapy can be tried instead. Give 1 to 3 ml of meglumine antimonate injected around and beneath the lesion, to be repeated if necessary.

- Visceral leishmaniasis

Either meglumine antimonate or sodium stibogluconate are given systematically as described above. Strict supervision is necessary.
In case of poor response or idiosyncratic drug reaction, use pentamidine.


Vector control and, in some cases, control of animal reservoir.