Albendazole Therapy for Loiasis Refractory to Diethylcarbamazine Treatment

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Although diethylcarbamazine is curative in ˜60% of patients who acquire loiasis as long-term visitors to an endemic area, some individuals continue to have signs and symptoms of infection despite multiple courses of diethylcarbamazine. On the basis of a study of albendazole treatment of loiasis in microfilaremic patients that suggested a macrofilaricidal effect of the drug, we treated three patients who had symptomatic loiasis refractory to more than four courses of diethylcarbamazine with albendazole. At the time of treatment, all patients had persistent symptoms despite decreasing titers of antifilarial antibodies and normal eosinophil counts. Symptoms resolved in all three patients following albendazole therapy. In one patient, nonspecific symptoms recurred 2 years later, but unlike her symptoms before albendazole therapy, they were not accompanied by the appearance of subcutaneous nodules containing adult worms. The other two patients have been symptom-free in the 8 years after albendazole treatment. In summary, albendazole may be useful for the treatment of loiasis when diethylcarbamazine is ineffective or cannot be used.

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