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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1994 Mar;38(3):511-4.

Antimalarial effects of rifampin in Plasmodium vivax malaria.

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  • 1Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


The antimalarial effects of rifampin in 60 adults with Plasmodium vivax malaria were assessed. There were three treatment groups: rifampin (20 and 15 mg/kg of body weight per day for 1 and 4 days, respectively; n = 5); rifampin followed by primaquine (15 mg of base per day for 14 days; n = 25), and chloroquine (25 mg of base per kg over 3 days) followed by primaquine (n = 30). All patients were hospitalized till clearance of fever and parasites, and 45 patients stayed in the hospital for 1 month. Despite initial clearance of fever in all patients and a > or = 6-fold reduction in parasitemia per 48-h life cycle, rifampin alone was not effective: all five patients had subsequent R2-like parasitological responses. All patients treated with rifampin-primaquine cleared both fever and parasitemia, but the therapeutic responses were slower than those following treatment with chloroquine-primaquine. Final fever clearance times were significantly longer (mean [standard deviation] = 43 [35] versus 27 [19] h; P = 0.046), and the parasite clearance times (to 50 and 90% of admission parasite counts and to a level undetectable in a peripheral blood smear) were also significantly greater (P = 0.053 to < 0.001). However, reappearance of infection occurred in only one patient treated with rifampin-primaquine. The results of this study suggest that rifampin at the usual therapeutic doses has partial activity against blood stages of P. vivax in humans but that used alone it is insufficient for cure. Rifampin might therefore be of value in combination antimalarial therapy.

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