Treating Cholera

A commonly used antibiotic may be part of the answer to preventing 5,000 deaths annually from cholera. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports cholera is a major public-health problem around the world. Children are most affected by this bacterial disease that causes severe diarrhea resulting in dehydration.

Adults with cholera are often given a single-dose antibiotic and now doctors believe the same treatment approach may help children. Doctors from Bangladesh studied 128 children with cholera and treated them with either a single dose of azithromycin or erythromycin every six hours for three days. The doctors say the single dose regimen would be ideal for children because it would increase compliance.

Overall, researchers report treatment success was the same in both groups. Children who received azithromycin once a day had diarrhea for a shorter period of time and less vomiting than those on erythromycin. The researchers write, “The logistics of delivering single-dose therapy are also much simpler than those for multidose regimens, an important advantage in dealing with often massive and rapid cholera epidemics.”

Doctors know cholera reacts differently in children than it does in adults. Therefore, the researchers say it is important for ongoing studies to be completed to determine the safety and effectiveness of different medicines in children.

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