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Variation in incidence of serious adverse events after onchocerciasis treatment with ivermectin in areas of Cameroon co-endemic for loiasis.
Tropical Medicine and International Health. 2003 Sep; 8(9):820-831.Objective: To determine the incidence of serious adverse events (SAEs) after mass treatment with ivermectin in areas co-endemic for loiasis and onchocerciasis, and to identify potential risk factors associated with the development of these SAEs, in particular encephalopathic SAEs. Methods: We retrospectively analysed SAEs reported to have occurred between 1 December 1998 and 30 November 1999 in central-southern Cameroon by chart review, interview and examination of a subset of patients. Results: The overall incidence of SAEs for the three provinces studied was 6 per 100,000. However, for Central Province alone the incidence of SAEs was 2.7 per 10,000 overall, and 1.9 per 10,000 for encephalopathic SAEs associated with Loa loa microfilaremia (PLERM). The corresponding rates for the most severely affected district within Central Province (Okola) were 10.5 per 10,000 and 9.2 per 10,000 respectively. Symptoms began within the first 24–48 h of ivermectin administration but there was a delay of approximately 48–84 h in seeking help after the onset of symptoms. First-time exposure to ivermectin was associated with development of PLERM. Conclusion: In Cameroon, the incidence of SAEs following ivermectin administration in general, and PLERM cases in particular, varies substantially by district within the areas co-endemic for loiasis and onchocerciasis. More intense surveillance and monitoring in the first 2 days after mass distribution in ivermectin-naïve populations would assist in early recognition, referral and management of these cases. The increased reporting of SAEs from Okola is unexpected and warrants further investigation. Research is urgently needed to find a reliable screening tool to exclude individuals (rather than communities) at risk of PLERM from the mass treatment program. (author's)