Development of a pharmacovigilance safety monitoring tool for the rollout of single low-dose primaquine and artemether-lumefantrine to treat Plasmodium falciparum infections in Swaziland: a pilot study
Combination therapy that includes artemisinin derivatives cures most falciparum malaria infections. Lowering transmission by reducing gametocyte infectivity would be an additional benefit. To examine the effect of such therapy on transmission, Gambian children with Plasmodium falciparum malaria were treated with standard regimens of chloroquine or pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine alone or in combination with 1 or 3 doses of artesunate. The infectivity to mosquitoes of gametocytes in peripheral blood was determined 4 or 7 days after treatment. Infection of mosquitoes was observed in all treatment groups and was positively associated with gametocyte density. The probability of transmission was lowest in those who received pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine and 3 doses of artesunate, and it was 8-fold higher in the group that received pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine alone. Artesunate reduced posttreatment infectivity dramatically but did not abolish it completely. The study raises questions about any policy to use pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine alone as the first-line treatment for malaria.