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Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Feb 1;44(3):338-46. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Traveler's diarrhea in Thailand: randomized, double-blind trial comparing single-dose and 3-day azithromycin-based regimens with a 3-day levofloxacin regimen.

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  • 1Enteric Diseases Department, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA. tribbled@nmrc.navy.mil

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Traveler's diarrhea in Thailand is frequently caused by Campylobacter jejuni. Rates of fluoroquinolone (FQ) resistance in Campylobacter organisms have exceeded 85% in recent years, and reduced fluoroquinolone efficacy has been observed.

METHODS:

Azithromycin regimens were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind trial of azithromycin, given as a single 1-g dose or a 3-day regimen (500 mg daily), versus a 3-day regimen of levofloxacin (500 mg daily) in military field clinics in Thailand. Outcomes included clinical end points (time to the last unformed stool [TLUS] and cure rates) and microbiological end points (pathogen eradication).

RESULTS:

A total of 156 patients with acute diarrhea were enrolled in the trial. Campylobacter organisms predominated (in 64% of patients), with levofloxacin resistance noted in 50% of Campylobacter organisms and with no azithromycin resistance noted. The cure rate at 72 h after treatment initiation was highest (96%) with single-dose azithromycin, compared with the cure rates of 85% noted with 3-day azithromycin and 71% noted with levofloxacin (P=.002). Single-dose azithromycin was also associated with the shortest median TLUS (35 h; P=.03, by log-rank test). Levofloxacin's efficacy was inferior to azithromycin's efficacy, except in patients with no pathogen identified during the first 24 h of treatment or in patients with levofloxacin-susceptible Campylobacter isolates, in whom it appeared to be equal to azithromycin. The rate of microbiological eradication was significantly better with azithromycin-based regimens (96%-100%), compared with levofloxacin (38%) (P=.001); however, this finding was poorly correlated with clinical outcome. A higher rate of posttreatment nausea in the 30 min after receipt of the first dose (14% vs. <6%; P=.06) was observed as a mild, self-limited complaint associated with single-dose azithromycin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Single-dose azithromycin is recommended for empirical therapy of traveler's diarrhea acquired in Thailand and is a reasonable first-line option for empirical management in general.

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