Studies designed to determine the effects of mass administration of azithromycin on trachoma have suggested that mass azithromycin distributions may also reduce the prevalence of malaria. These studies have typically examined the impact of a small number of treatments over short durations. In this prespecified substudy of a cluster-randomized trial for trachoma, we compared malaria parasitemia prevalence in 24 communities in Niger randomized to receive either annual or biannual mass azithromycin distributions over 3 years. The 12 communities randomized to annual azithromycin received three treatments during the high-transmission season, and the 12 communities randomized to biannual azithromycin received a total of six treatments: three during the high-transmission season and three during the low-transmission season. Blood samples were taken to assess malariometric indices among children in all study communities at a single time point during the high-transmission season after 3 years of the intervention. No significant differences were identified in malaria parasitemia, parasite density, or hemoglobin concentration between the annual and biannual treatment arms. When compared with annual mass azithromycin alone, additional mass azithromycin distributions given during the low-transmission season did not significantly reduce the subsequent prevalence of malaria parasitemia or parasite density after 3 years, as measured during the high-transmission season.
O’Brien, K. S., Cotter, S. Y., Amza, A., Kadri, B., Nassirou, B., Stoller, N. E., … Lietman, T. M. (2017). Mass azithromycin and malaria parasitemia in Niger: Results from a community-randomized trial. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 97(3), 696–701. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.16-0487