2019 Issue  12

Three new reviews are available in Issue 12 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews·

race AG, Mittal A, Jain S, Tripathy JP, Satyanarayana S, Tharyan P, Kirubakaran R. Shortened treatment regimens versus the standard regimen for drug‐sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD012918. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012918.pub2

This new review by Angeline Grace and her colleagues, examines whether the duration of anti‐tuberculosis treatment (ATT) for people with newly diagnosed drug‐sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis can be shortened to less than six months. Current treatment is a six‐month combination of drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide for two months, followed by isoniazid and rifampicin with or without ethambutol for four months); many people do not complete the treatment because of the long duration, or because of drug side effects, but incomplete or irregular treatment can lead to treatment failure and can increase disease relapse. The review includes 5 randomized trials comparing fluoroquinolone‐containing four‐month ATT regimens versus standard six‐month ATT regimens, and recruited 5825 adults with newly diagnosed drug‐sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis from 14 countries with high tuberculosis transmission in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Three trials included 572 HIV‐positive people, but all trial excluded people with other serious comorbidities. Although treatment success and serious adverse events were little or no different between the 4-months’ and the 6 months’ regimens, the shortened regimens appeared to increase relapse, and the authors conclude that evidence to date does not support the use of shortened ATT regimens in adults with newly diagnosed drug‐sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis. 

Liang  Y, Zhang  L, Zeng  L, Gordon  M, Wen  J. Racecadotril for acute diarrhoea in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD009359. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009359.pub2

Racecadotril is an anti‐secretory drug that has been used for acute diarrhoea in children as an adjunct to oral rehydration therapy. This new review by Yi Liang and colleagues assessed the efficacy and safety of racecadotril for treating acute diarrhoea in children under five years of age, in comparison with placebo or no treatment. Seven RCTs with a total of 1140 participants met the inclusion criteria; trials were carried out on children aged three months to five years, in outpatient and inpatient facilities from France, Spain, Peru, India, Kenya, and Ecuador. Racecadotril may reduce the risk of rehydration failure, but the data is of low certainty evidence. Data on duration of diarrhoea and number of stools in the first 48 hours were insufficient to reach a conclusion. Length of hospital stay was similar in two studies measuring this, and overall there was no evidence that racecadotril increased overall rate of adverse events. The author conclude that current evidence does not support routine use of racecadotril in management of acute diarrhoea in children under five, outside of the context of placebo‐controlled RCTs.

Esu  EB, Oringanje  C, Meremikwu  MM. Intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD011525. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011525.pub2

2019 Issue 11

No publications produced for Issue 11

2019 issue 10

Two review updates and one new protocol are available in Issue 10 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Bjerrum S, Schiller I, Dendukuri N, Kohli M, Nathavitharana RR, Zwerling AA, Denkinger CM, Steingart KR, Shah M. Lateral flow urine lipoarabinomannan assay for detecting active tuberculosis in people living with HIV. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD011420. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011420.pub3.

This is an update of the 2016 Cochrane review with the same title; there have been some changes in the author team and some technical details.  LF‐LAM is a commercially available point‐of‐care test that detects lipoarabinomannan (LAM), a component of the bacterial cell walls, present in some people with active tuberculosis. The test is simple and shows results in 25 minutes. This review examines the accuracy of LF‐LAM for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis among HIV‐positive adults with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis and among HIV‐positive adults irrespective of signs and symptoms of tuberculosis, and is part of the WHO process for updating guidance on the use of LF‐LAM. Stephanie Bjerrum and colleagues have identified 9 new studies for a total of 15 included studies, all conducted in low‐ or middle‐income countries. LF‐LAM showed s a sensitivity of 42% to diagnose tuberculosis in HIV‐positive individuals with tuberculosis symptoms and 35% in HIV‐positive individuals not assessed for tuberculosis symptoms, consistent with findings reported previously. Regardless of how people are enrolled, sensitivity is higher in inpatients and those with lower CD4 cells.  The authors conclude that as a simple point‐of‐care test that does not depend upon sputum evaluation, LF‐LAM may assist with the diagnosis of tuberculosis, particularly when a sputum specimen cannot be produced.

SoaresWeiser K, Bergman H, Henschke N, Pitan F, Cunliffe N. Vaccines for preventing rotavirus diarrhoea: vaccines in use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD008521. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008521.pub5.

This is an update This is an amendment to the review update published in March 2019 (Soares-Weiser 2019), in response to some comments received. Although a new citation is required, the included studies and conclusions have not changed since the review version published in March 2019.

New protocol

Jullien S, Dissanayake HA, Chaplin M. Rapid diagnostic tests for plague. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD013459. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013459.

2019 Issue 9

Two new reviews and one updated review are available in Issue 9 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Reviews

Majorin F, Torondel B, Ka Seen Chan G, Clasen T. Interventions to improve disposal of child faeces for preventing diarrhoea and soiltransmitted helminth infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD011055. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011055.pub2.

This new review, prepared by Fiona Majorin and colleagues, examines the impact of improved disposal of child faeces on diarrhoea and soil‐transmitted helminth infections. Sanitation interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing diarrhoea and STH infections overall, but there has not been much focus on interventions on the disposal of child faeces. The authors of this review argue that the unsafe disposal of child faeces may represent a more important health risk to children, caregivers, and other community members than faeces of adults, because young children have the highest incidence of enteric infections, and their faeces are most likely to contain infectious agents. The review includes 63 studies covering over 222,800 participants, with different types of interventions, such as education and hygiene promotion, community programmes to end open defecation, provision of hardware such as nappies, potties, faecal collection devices, cleaning products, child‐friendly latrines. Most study sites (56/69) were in low‐ or lower middle‐income settings. There was some evidence that interventions to promote safe disposal of child faeces were protective against diarrhoea, but this evidence was of very low to moderate quality. There was no evidence that such interventions were protective against STH infections, but the evidence was very limited and the certainty was low to very low. 

Van Hoving DJ, Griesel R, Meintjes G, Takwoingi Y, Maartens G, Ochodo EA. Abdominal ultrasound for diagnosing abdominal tuberculosis or disseminated tuberculosis with abdominal involvement in HIVpositive individuals. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD012777. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012777.pub2..  

This review investigates the accuracy of an ultrasound examination of the abdomen for diagnosing tuberculosis, in people with HIV suspected of having tuberculosis in the abdomen or widespread tuberculosis (disseminated tuberculosis) involving the abdomen. People living with HIV have a higher probability of developing tuberculosis, and extrapulmonary tuberculosis accounts for up to 50% of all tuberculosis cases in HIV+ people; however, detection rates are only an estimated 61% ,  reflecting a mixture of under‐reporting of detected cases and underdiagnosis of tuberculosis. Daniel Van Hoving and colleagues in this new review identified 11 studies for inclusion, but only six of these were relevant for the main analyses, and these were done in Cambodia, India, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, and Tanzania. The analysis showed that in HIV+ people  thought to have abdominal tuberculosis or disseminated tuberculosis with abdominal involvement, abdominal ultrasound appears to have 63% sensitivity and 68% specificity when tuberculosis was bacteriologically confirmed. Quality of these studies was low. The low sensitivity of abdominal ultrasound means clinicians should not use a negative test result to rule out the disease, but rather consider the result in combination with other diagnostic strategies (including clinical signs, chest x‐ray, lateral flow urine lipoarabinomannan assay (LF‐LAM), and Xpert MTB/RIF).

Updated Review

TaylorRobinson DC, Maayan N, Donegan S, Chaplin M, Garner P. Public health deworming programmes for soiltransmitted helminths in children living in endemic areas. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD000371. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000371.pub7. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends treating all school children at regular intervals with deworming drugs in areas where helminth infection is common, and global advocacy organizations claim routine deworming has substantive health and societal effects beyond the removal of worms. In this updated review, David Taylor‐Robinson and his team summarize the effects of public health deworming programmes on child growth, haemoglobin, cognition, school attendance, school performance, physical fitness, and mortality. This review has a long history as it was first published in 1998, and the title and methods have been changed through time. This last version follows a prespecified update plan, approved by two CIDG Editor before starting the update, and it includes six new trials. The review now includes 51 trials, (with 10 cluster‐RCTs; one trial evaluating mortality included over one million children, and the remaining 50 trials included a total of 84,336 participants. In populations of children living in endemic areas, deworming showed little or no effect on weight gain in most studies, except for 2 older studies (one in Kenya and one in India) in children heavily infected with worms. In trials from 2000 onwards, which are more relevant given the global reduction in worm burden, there was little or no effect. Overall, there was also substantial evidence of no benefit in terms of haemoglobin, cognition, school performance, and mortality. The authors suggest that the current evidence does not support large public health programmes of deworming in low and middle‐income countries.

2019 Issue 8

Two new reviews and two new protocols are available in Issue 8 of the  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Reviews

Choi  L, Majambere  S, Wilson  AL. Larviciding to prevent malaria transmission. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD012736. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012736.pub2.

Larviciding refers to the application of microbial or chemical insecticides to water bodies or water containers, with the aim of killing mosquito larvae so that fewer will develop into adults. This should reduce the number of mosquitoes that bite and infect humans with malaria. There are several different types of larvicide, such as chemical larvicides (conventional insecticides or insect growth regulators), microbial larvicides (such as Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis and Bacillus sphaericus ) and oils. Leslie Choi, Silas Majambere and Anne Wilson have completed this new review, that compared larviciding with no larviciding. Four studies (one RCT, two controlled before‐and‐after studies ,  and one non‐randomized cross‐over design) met the inclusion criteria. All used ground application of larvicides (people hand‐delivering larvicides); one evaluated chemical and three evaluated microbial agents. Studies were carried out in The Gambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. The authors found no studies using larviciding application techniques that could cover large aquatic habitats, such as aerial spraying using aircraft. The conclusion from the included studies is that larviciding may decrease at least one malaria disease outcome in areas where the mosquito aquatic habitats were less than 1 square km (low‐certainty evidence). The WHO currently recommends larviciding and other larval source management (LSM) interventions as a supplementary malaria control intervention, so that further evidence on the effects of larviciding should be generated through monitoring and evaluation of programmatic implementation.

Braganza Menezes  D, Menezes  B, Dedicoat  M. Contact tracing strategies in household and congregate environments to identify cases of tuberculosis in low‐ and moderate‐incidence populations. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD013077. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013077.pub2.

This new review by Darryl Braganza Menezes and colleagues aims to analyze the evidence supporting the current approach to contact tracing (the process of identifying individuals exposed to an infectious case of tuberculosis), and whether alternate options could result in a higher rate of infection detection in TB contacts. The currently adopted approach for contact tracing utilizes a ‘stone‐in‐pond’ model; each ‘ripple’ represents a social circle, with varying degrees of physical proximity to the index case, and screening progresses to the next possible circle of contacts only if a predefined proportion of positive contacts are found in the previous circle. Alternative approaches for contact tracing consider not only the list of contacts volunteered by the patient, but also other social relationships and opportunistic contacts, such as work colleagues, and people met for example in bars, shops, and transport. The reviewers aimed to include RCTs and cluster RCTs of contact tracing, run in areas of low and moderate TB incidence. However, no trials for inclusion were identified, and the authors conclude that this highlights the lack of research in support of the current contact tracing method and the need for RCTs to compare new methods such as social network analysis. 

New Protocols

Furnival‐Adams  J, Olanga  EA, Napier  M, Garner  P. Housing interventions for preventing malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD013398. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013398

Obonyo CO, Muok EMO, Were V. Biannual praziquantel treatment for schistosomiasis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD013412. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013412

2019 Issue 7

One new review is available in Issue 7 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

Milligan  R, Daher  A, Graves  PM. Primaquine at alternative dosing schedules for preventing relapse in people with   Plasmodium vivax malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD012656. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012656.pub2.

Rachael Milligan, André Daher and Patricia Graves are the authors of this new review, which summarizes data from trials comparing the World Health Organization (WHO)‐recommended primaquine regimen of 15 to 30 mg per day for 14 days with the same or higher doses of primaquine given over different lengths of time, to determine whether alternative regimens were as successful as the recommended courses at preventing future episodes of P vivax malaria. The WHO recommended 14-day drug course can be difficult to complete, and primaquine can cause dangerous haemolysis in individuals with glucose‐6‐phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, which is a relatively common genetic blood disorder. Shorter regimens would help reduce the risk of default with the current two‐week regimen. The review includes 9 trials conducted in South America and in Asia; all trials included data for adults, and four trials included children under the age of 10 years, but no trials had information on children under one year old. Although limited data were available, the analysis did not detect a difference in recurrence between the 7‐day regimen and the standard 14‐day regimen of 0.5 mg/kg/day primaquine, and no serious adverse events were reported in G6PD‐normal participants taking 0.5 mg/kg/day of primaquine. The authors recommend that further large high‐quality RCTs are needed, with more standardised comparison regimens and longer follow‐up, to help resolve uncertainties.

2019 Issue 6

One new  protocol, one new review and two review updates are available in Issue 6 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocol

Kay AW, Gonzales Fernandez L, Takwoingi Y, Eisenhut M, Vu RD, Steingart KR, Detjen AK, Mandalakas AM.  Expert MTB/RIF and Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra assays for active tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD013359. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013359.

New Review

Mateo-Urdiales A, Johnson S, Smith R, Nachega JB, Eshun-Wilson I, Rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 6. Art. No. CDO12962. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012962.pub2

Alberto Mateo‐Urdiales and his team in this new review evaluate whether rapid anti-retroviral therapy (ART) initiation, i.e. starting ART as soon as possible after testing HIV‐positive, normally within seven days, improves treatment outcomes and mortality in people living with HIV (PLWH). In 2017, only 59% of PLWH were receiving ART, with high attrition from HIV services after HIV diagnosis; this is particularly relevant in sub‐Saharan Africa. Even when PLWH receive ART, they may wait over a month to start therapy, once eligibility is established; the reasons for these delays are complex and involve a combination of structural, social, and psychological patient factors, as well as poor healthcare infrastructure in some settings. The authors identified 7 RCTs with 18,011 participants for inclusion in the review. All studies were carried out in low‐ and middle‐income countries in adults aged 18 years old or older; only one RCT included pregnant women. Most studies conducted some assessment of ‘readiness to start ART', through counselling sessions or a checklist, and rapid ART initiation was frequently delivered alongside other interventions targeted at modifying individual or health workers' behaviours, such as reminders, incentives, or expedited drug dispensing, as well as training for   healthcare workers. The reviewers fund that rapid ART probably increases the number of people being initiated on ART at 12 months and the number of PLWH with no detectable virus in their blood at 12 months, and it may increase the number of PLWH being retained in care. It is not clear whether rapid ART has an effect on the number of deaths.  Several changes need to be made to health system structures and processes in order to benefit from rapid ART initiation. 

Updated  Reviews

Esu  EB, Effa  EE, Opie  ON, Meremikwu  MM. Artemether for severe malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD010678. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010678.pub3.

This review, first published in 2014 and now updated by Ekpereonne Esu and colleagues from Nigeria, aims to assess the efficacy and safety of intramuscular artemether versus any other parenteral medication in the treatment of severe malaria in adults and children. Artemether is an artemisinin‐based medicine only available as a pre‐mixed oil‐based solution for intramuscular injection; it is now widely available and is used in many African countries, although it is not specifically recommended by the WHO.  The authors identified one new study and the updated review includes 19 RCTs, enrolling 2874 adults and children with severe malaria, carried out in Africa (12 trials) and in Asia (7 trials). In comparison with quinine, artemether did not seem more effective at preventing deaths from severe malaria in children, but it was more effective at preventing deaths in adults, and it also seemed more effective at improving other patient‐oriented outcomes such as fever and parasite clearance time, in both children and adults. In comparison with artesunate, artemether performs worse in terms of mortality in adults; no trials comparing artesunate with artemether have been conducted in young children.  The authors conclude that artemether is probably less effective than artesunate at preventing deaths from severe malaria, but where artesunate is not available, artemether is an alternative to quinine.

Horne  DJ, Kohli  M, Zifodya  JS, Schiller  I, Dendukuri  N, Tollefson  D, Schumacher  SG, Ochodo  EA, Pai  M, Steingart  KR. Xpert MTB/RIF and Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra for pulmonary tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD009593. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009593.pub4.

Karen Steingart and colleagues have updated this review which assesses the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert MTB/RIF and Xpert Ultra for tuberculosis in adults with presumptive pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), and for rifampicin resistance in adults with presumptive rifampicin‐resistant tuberculosis. Xpert MTB/RIF and Xpert Ultra, the newest version, are World Health Organization‐recommended tests that simultaneously detect tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in persons with tuberculosis symptoms. Rifampicin is an important anti‐tuberculosis drug. Not recognizing tuberculosis early may result in delayed diagnosis and treatment, severe illness, and death. The review authors identified 95 unique studies, integrating 77 new studies since publication of the previous Cochrane Review (Steingart 2014). 86 studies (42,091 participants) evaluated Xpert MTB/RIF for tuberculosis and 57 studies (8287 participants) for rifampicin resistance. One study compared Xpert MTB/RIF and Xpert Ultra on the same participant specimen. Xpert MTB/RIF was found to be sensitive and specific for diagnosing PTB and rifampicin resistance, consistent with findings reported previously. Xpert MTB/RIF was more sensitive for tuberculosis in smear‐positive than smear‐negative participants and HIV‐negative than HIV‐positive participants. Compared with Xpert MTB/RIF, Xpert Ultra had higher sensitivity and lower specificity for tuberculosis and similar sensitivity and specificity for rifampicin resistance. Future studies should assess the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert Ultra compared with other rapid tests for tuberculosis and drug resistance, especially in difficult‐to‐diagnose groups, such as children, people living with HIV, and those with extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

2019 Issue 5

One new review and one new protocol are  available in Issue 5 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

Choi  L, Pryce  J, Garner  P. Indoor residual spraying for preventing malaria in communities using insecticide‐treated nets. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD012688. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012688.pub2.

This new review, prepared by the LSTM-based team of Leslie Choi, Joseph Pryce and Paul Garner, summarizes the effect on malaria of adding indoor residual spraying (IRS), using non‐pyrethroid‐like or pyrethroid‐like insecticides, in communities currently using insecticide‐treated nets (ITNs). Adding IRS to ITNs may improve control, simply because two interventions may be better than one; it may improve malaria control where ITNs are failing due to pyrethroid resistance; and it may slow the emergence and spread of pyrethroid resistance. Six cluster randomized trials with 8 comparisons met the inclusion criteria. Adding IRS with a non‐pyrethroid‐like insecticide had mixed results: it is not clear if the addition of IRS impacted on malaria incidence, but it may have reduced malaria parasite and the prevalence of anaemia. Adding IRS using a pyrethroid‐like insecticide did not appear to markedly alter malaria incidence, parasite prevalence, or anaemia prevalence. Given the wide geographical variety of malaria endemicities, transmission patterns, and insecticide resistance, it is not possible to draw precise conclusions from the limited number of trials conducted to date. 

New Protocol

Bauza  V, Sclar  G, Majorin  F, Clasen  T. Interventions to improve sanitation for preventing diarrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD013328. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013328.

2019 Issue 4

One new review is available in Issue 4 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

Kashangura  R, Jullien  S, Garner  P, Johnson  S. MVA85A vaccine to enhance BCG for preventing tuberculosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD012915. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012915.pub2.

Rufaro Kashangura, Sophie Jullien, Paul Garner and Samuel Johnson are the authors of this new review that aims to assess and summarize the effects of the MVA85A vaccine boosting BCG in humans. Bacillus Calmette‐Guérin (BCG) is the only available vaccine against tuberculosis, but protection is incomplete and variable. The modified Vaccinia Ankara virus expressing antigen 85A (MVA85A) is a viral vector vaccine produced to prevent tuberculosis. Immunological studies showed that a prime boost strategy, where MVA85A was used to boost the effects of BCG, was effective in expanding immune responses specific to M tuberculosis. MVA85A was tested In Phase 1 studies in humans, and this review presents a summary of safety data from 21 studies with 712 participants, which showed most of the adverse effects related to vaccination were mild and were contained locally to the injection site, and only very few serious adverse effects. The review also presents data from 6 studies (3838 participants) that reported findings from four Phase 2 clinical trials. All trials took place in South Africa and one trial also had a site in Senegal. Five studies included infants, one of them infants born to HIV‐positive mothers, and one study included adults living with HIV. MVA85A added to BCG compared to BCG alone had no effect on the risk of developing microbiologically confirmed tuberculosis, latent tuberculosis, or the risk of starting on tuberculosis treatment. The authors concluded that MVA85A delivered by intradermal injection in addition to BCG is safe but not effective in reducing the risk of developing tuberculosis

2019 Issue 3

One new protocol, one new review and one updated review are  available in Issue 3  of the   Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocol

Choi L, McIntyre S,Furnival-Adams J, Indoor residual spraying for preventing malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD013300. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD01330 

New Review

Singh B, Cocker D, Ryan H, Sloan DJ, Linezolid for drug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 3. Art No.: CD012836. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD01.2836.pub2.

This new review, authored by Bhagteshwar Singh and colleagues in Liverpool, examines the efficacy and safety of linezolid when used as part of a second‐line regimen for treating people with multi‐drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR‐TB) and extensively drug‐resistant tuberculosis (XDR‐TB).  Linezolid was recently re‐classified as a Group A (“Medicines to be prioritised”) drug by the World Health Organization (WHO) for treatment of MDR‐TB and XDR‐TB, suggesting that it should be included in the regimen for all patients unless contraindicated, but it also carries a considerable risk of toxicity, with the optimal dose and duration remaining unclear. This review included randomized controlled trials to evaluate efficacy outcomes, and non‐randomized cohort studies to evaluate adverse events. The authors identified 3 RCTs for inclusion (one of poor quality and 2 small ones), and 14 non‐randomized cohort studies (two prospective, 12 retrospective), with a total of 1678 participants for safety outcomes. The 2 small RCTs, both conducted in people with XDR‐TB, reported better efficacy outcomes with linezolid use. Regarding safety outcomes, the first trial found a higher risk of developing low red blood cell counts, nausea and vomiting, and nerve damage in people receiving linezolid. In 11 of the non‐randomized studies, 22.6% of people had to stop linezolid due to adverse effects, but further comparisons of harmful effects were not possible due to incomplete reporting in these studies.

Updated  Review

Soares‐Weiser  K, Bergman  H, Henschke  N, Pitan  F, Cunliffe  N. Vaccines for preventing rotavirus diarrhoea: vaccines in use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD008521. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008521.pub4.

This is the fourth update of the original rotavirus vaccines review (Soares‐Weiser 2004), and it assesses efficacy and safety of the vaccines prequalified for use by the WHO: RV1, RV5, and Rotavac. The author team, led by Karla Soares-Weiser, identified 55 trials with a total of 216,480 participants for inclusion (36 trials with 119,114 participants assessed RV1, 15 trials (88,934 participants) RV5, and 4 trials (8432 participants) Rotavac. Results were stratified by child age (infants or children up to two years), and by countries with high or low child mortality. RV1, RV5, and Rotavac were all found to prevent episodes of rotavirus diarrhoea; the relative effect estimate was smaller in high‐mortality than in low‐mortality countries, but there is a greater number of episodes prevented in these settings as the baseline risk is much higher. The data from the included RCTs excluded a risk of intussusception (or other serious adverse events) with RV1, RV5, and Rotavac, of the magnitude observed with the first licensed vaccine; however, the authors recommend that routine vaccine introduction should be accompanied by safety surveillance.  

2019 Issue 2

One new protocol is available in Issue 2  of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocol

Choi  L, Johnson  S, Cunningham  J, Takwoingi  Y. Rapid diagnostic tests for Plasmodium vivax malaria in endemic countries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD013218. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013218.

2019 Issue 1

Three updated reviews are available in Issue 1 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Gonzales  MLM, Dans  LF, SioAguilar  J. Antiamoebic drugs for treating amoebic colitis Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD006085. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006085.pub3 

This review was first published in 2009 and has now a new author in the team, still led by Maria Liza Gonzales.  The review evaluates effectiveness and safety of drugs used to treat people with amoebic colitis, which is an infection of the large intestines caused by the parasite, Entamoeba histolytica. The parasite is distributed throughout the world and is commonly acquired by ingestion of contaminated food or water. For this update, the authors added four trials to the 37 trials included in the first published review version. Thirty trials were published over 20 years ago; only one trial used adequate methods of randomization and allocation concealment. The review shows that tinidazole may be more effective than metronidazole for reducing clinical symptoms and may results in fewer adverse events. Combination therapy resulted in fewer parasitological failures than occurred with metronidazole alone. There is insufficient evidence to allow conclusions regarding the efficacy of other antiamoebic drugs. Better quality randomized trials using accurate diagnostic methods and standardized outcomes are needed. 

Pryce  J, Hine  P. Pyronaridine-artesunate for treating uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malariaCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD006404. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006404.pub3. Read the LSTM news article

This review is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in 2007 (Unnikrishnan 2007), and previously updated in 2014 (Bukirwa 2014). The updated review had a different name and the new authors (Joseph Pryce and Paul Hine) decided to use the term pyronaridine‐artesunate in preference to artesunate‐pyronaridine, to reflect how most authors currently refer to the intervention. The background section and methodology have also been modified.  Pyronaridine has been shown to have potent in vitro activity versus P falciparum; its combination with artesunate was first developed in 2002 and first registered in 2011, with the Korean Food and Drug Administration. This review update includes 10 trials (7 were co‐funded by Shin Poong Pharmaceuticals which manufactures the drug, and 3 were funded by government agencies). Pyronaridine-artesunate was compared to artemether‐lumefantrine, artesunate‐amodiaquine or to mefloquine plus artesunate, in adults and children. It was found to effectively treat uncomplicated P falciparum malaria, and to be as good or better than other artemisinin‐based combination therapies (ACTs), but it increases the risk of having blood tests which suggest mild liver injury. A pyronaridine‐artesunate hepatic safety study is ongoing.

Macfarlane  CL, Budhathoki  SS, Johnson  S, Richardson  M, Garner  P. Albendazole alone or in combination with microfilaricidal drugs for lymphatic filariasis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD003753. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003753.pub4.

Cara Macfarlane and co-authors have completely updated this review, which was last published in 2005. The review has new authors, a new title, all data has been re‐extracted, and newer methodology has been applied. The authors included 13 trials (12 individually‐randomized and one small cluster‐randomized trial) with 8713 participants in total, assessing the effects of albendazole alone, and the effects of adding albendazole to DEC or ivermectin, in people and communities with lymphatic filariasis. The results show good evidence that albendazole makes little difference to clearing microfilaraemia or adult filarial worms in the 12 months post‐treatment. This finding is consistent in trials evaluating albendazole alone, or added to DEC or ivermectin. Further research is needed to inform policy for areas where ivermectin and DEC cannot be given. 

2018, Issue 12

One new review and one new protocol are available in Issue 12 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

Das JK, Hadi YB, Salam RA, Hoda M, Lassi ZS, Bhutta ZA. Fly control to prevent diarrhoea in childrenCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD011654. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011654.pub2 

This new review, prepared by a team led by Zulfiqar Bhutta, investigates the impact of various housefly control measures on the incidence of diarrhoea and its related morbidity and mortality in children under five years of age. The role of houseflies in acting as mechanical vectors for many diarrhoea‐causing agents has been fairly well established, and the review considered interventions that work at one of many levels: reduction/elimination of fly breeding sites (manure); reduction of sources that attract houseflies (domestic waste); prevention of contact between flies and disease‐causing organisms, through improvements in sanitation and excreta disposal; and finally, protection of people, food, and food utensils from contact with flies, through the use of insecticides or fly traps. The review considered randomized controlled trials, cluster RCTs, quasi‐RCTs, and controlled before‐and‐after studies. Only one study met the inclusion criteria, a cluster RCT done in 8 villages in Pakistan, that evaluated the use of ultra‐low‐volume space spraying with insecticide to control flies in the first two years and baited fly traps in the third year. A total of 491 children under the age of five years were enrolled in the study. Insecticide spraying reduced the fly population in the intervention group during the four months of the year when both flies and cases of diarrhoea were more common, but not at other times. On average, this was associated with a reduction in the incidence of diarrhoea in the first and second year of the intervention. In the third year of the intervention, the baited fly traps did not demonstrate an effect on the fly population or on diarrhoea incidence. More research is needed.

New Protocol

Anton‐Vazquez  V, Hine  P, Krishna  S, Richardson  M, Planche  T. Rapid versus standard antibiotic susceptibility testing for treating bloodstream infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD013235. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013235

2018, Issue 11

Three new reviews, one review update and two new protocols are available in Issue 11 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Reviews 

Gleave  K, Lissenden  N, Richardson  M, Choi  L, Ranson  H. Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) combined with pyrethroids in insecticide‐treated nets to prevent malaria in Africa. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD012776. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012776.pub2

This new review, prepared by a team led by Katherine Gleave, evaluates whether adding PBO (a synergist that inhibits specific metabolic enzymes within mosquitoes) to pyrethroids to treat mosquito nets increases entomological effectiveness and malaria outcomes. Currently only one insecticide class, the pyrethroids, is commonly used to treat long‐lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), but resistance to pyrethroids is now widespread in African malaria vectors, and innovations in the use of LLIN are essential to maintain their efficacy. Currently there are five pyrethroid‐PBO nets in production: Olyset® Plus; PermaNet® 3.0; Veeralin® LN; and DawaPlus 3.0 and 4.0. This review includes different study types, and 15 trials conducted between 2010 to 2018 met the inclusion criteria: two laboratory trials, eight experimental hut trials, and five cluster‐randomized controlled village trials. In areas of high levels of mosquito resistance to pyrethroids, pyrethroid‐PBO nets performed better than standard pyrethroid‐only nets at killing mosquitoes and preventing them from blood feeding, but this effect was not seen in areas of low or no resistance to the pyrethroid‐only insecticides. One trial with 3966 participants, in an area of high resistance to pyrethroids, found that fewer people were infected with malaria when the population used pyrethroid‐PBO nets compared to standard pyrethroid‐only nets. The findings of this review support the recent WHO policy recommendation that pyrethroid‐PBO nets should be considered for deployment in areas where pyrethroid resistance has been confirmed; questions remain about the durability of pyrethroid‐PBO nets, and their cost-effectiveness. 

Aves  T, Tambe  J, Siemieniuk  RAC, Mbuagbaw  L. Antiretroviral resistance testing in HIV‐positive people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD006495. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006495.pub5

This review prepared by a team led by Lawrence Mbuagbaw summarizes the relative merits of resistance testing in treatment‐naive and treatment‐exposed people living with HIV. Testing people for resistance to antiretroviral therapy (ART) may be used at the time of initiation of therapy, or when treatment failure occurs, to inform the choice of ART regimen and improve HIV outcomes; these tests are widely used in high‐income countries, but not in resource‐limited settings, because of their high costs.  The review includes 11 randomized controlled trials (published between 1999 and 2006) with a total of 2531 people. Trials included only people who had detectable HIV despite being on antiretroviral drugs; no trials included patients starting therapy for the first time. Studies were conducted in Europe, USA, or South America. Length of follow‐up time, study settings, and types of resistance testing varied greatly. Resistance testing probably improved virological outcomes in people who have had virological failure; it did not demonstrate important patient benefits in terms of risk of death or progression to AIDS. The trials included very few participants from low‐ and middle‐income countries. Based on the findings of this review, the authors recommend further investigation of the role of resistance testing in treatment‐naive people with HIV and in subpopulations with a greater incidence of transmitted drug resistance, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), commercial sex workers (CSWs), and people who inject drugs (PWIDs), as well as studies to be conducted in low‐resource settings.

Pryce  J, Choi  L, Richardson  M, Malone  D. Insecticide space spraying for preventing malaria transmission. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD012689. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012689.pub2

Joseph Pryce and colleagues from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have completed this review, which summarizes the evidence of the impact of space spraying on malaria transmission. Space spraying refers to the process of dispersing liquid droplets of insecticide into an area as a fog, which can be delivered using equipment that is either hand‐held, vehicle‐mounted, or applied from an aircraft. For the purposes of this Cochrane Review, the term implies distribution of insecticide at a population level, rather than household use, and the primary objective is to evaluate the impact of space spraying on malaria transmission, in comparison to equivalent conditions with no space spraying. A secondary objective was to identify and summarize the range of space spraying strategies that have been tested so far. Four studies conducted between 1972 and 2000 were identified for inclusion in the review, which used a range of insecticide delivery methods such as handheld, vehicle‐mounted, and aircraft‐mounted spraying equipment, and a variety of different insecticides, doses, and spraying times to suit the local environment and the behaviour of the targeted mosquito species. In three studies, the evidence was unsuitable for reliably assessing the impact of space spraying on the number of cases of malaria. The remaining study, which took place in a single state in India and covered a combined population of 18,460 people, reported the number of malaria cases in the years preceding and following the introduction of space spraying, and showed that space spraying led to a decrease in the number of cases of malaria. However, as the trial was conducted over 30 years ago and within one location only, we cannot be certain that these findings are applicable in other malarial areas. There is a lack of high‐quality studies assessing the effectiveness of space spraying for disease control.

Updated Review

Pryce  J, Richardson  M, Lengeler  C. Insecticide‐treated nets for preventing malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD000363. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000363.pub3

Joseph Pryce, Marty Richardson and Christian Lengeler have updated this review, first published in 1998.   Previous version of this review showed that insecticide‐treated nets (ITNs) are effective at reducing child mortality, parasite prevalence, and uncomplicated and severe malaria episodes. ITN-treated nets have since become a core intervention for malaria control and have contributed greatly to the dramatic decline in disease incidence and malaria‐related deaths, but the rise in resistance to pyrethroids has raised questions over whether the evidence from earlier trials can be applied to estimate the impact of ITNs on malaria transmission today. This new version of the review aims to assess the impact of ITNs on mortality and malaria morbidity, incorporating any evidence published since the previous update into new and existing analyses, and assessing the certainty of the resulting evidence using GRADE. A total of 23 trials, all conducted between 1987 and 2001, and enrolling more than 275,793 adults and children are included. Results show that despite the increase in insecticide resistance frequency and intensity in populations of malaria vectors across the world, ITN, in comparison to either no nets or not treated nets, continue to be effective at reducing child mortality from all causes and malaria‐related illness in affected areas. 

New Protocols

Ochodo  EA, Kakourou  A, Mallett  S, Deeks  JJ. Point‐of‐care viral load tests to detect high HIV viral load levels in HIV‐positive people on antiretroviral therapy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD013208. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013208

Ochodo  EA, Kakourou  A, Mallett  S, Deeks  JJ. Point‐of‐care tests detecting HIV nucleic acids for diagnosis of HIV infection in infants and children aged 18 months or less. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD013207. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013207

2018, Issue 10

No pubications in this Issue

2018, Issue 9

One new protocol and one review update are available in Issue 9 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Review

El Sayed  I, Liu  Q, Wee  I, Hine  P. Antibiotics for treating scrub typhus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD002150. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002150.pub2.

This is an update of a review first published in 2000; this review has new author team (Iman El Sayed, Qin Liu, Ian Wee and Paul Hine), and a revised protocol, reflecting new methodology.  Scrub typhus, caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is an important cause of acute fever in Asia. This bacterium is transmitted by chiggers, and most cases occur in a region which extends from Japan to India, and to Northern Australia (the ‘tsutsugamushi triangle’). Incidence varies from 1.2 to 17.7 per 100,000 per year. This review evaluates the effects of different antibiotic currently used to treat scrub typhus (tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, macrolides, and rifampicin). The authors included 6 RCTs and one quasi‐RCT with 548 participants, taking place in Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. Tetracycline, doxycycline, azithromycin, and rifampicin were shown to be effective treatment options for scrub typhus and to result in few treatment failures. Because of the risk of inducing resistance in undiagnosed tuberculosis, rifampicin should only be considered as a second‐line treatment option after exclusion of active tuberculosis. Most available evidence was of low or very low certainty. Future research should focus on larger trials of good quality, including patients with severe scrub typhus, as well as standardized diagnostic techniques and reporting of clinical outcomes, to allow robust comparisons.

New Protocol

de Souza  DK, Larbi  I, Boakye  DA, Okebe  J. Ivermectin treatment in humans for reducing malaria transmission. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD013117. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013117

2018, Issue 8

Two new reviews and one review update are available in Issue 8 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Reviews

Xpert® MTB/RIF assay for extrapulmonary tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance (Kohli M, Schiller I, Dendukuri N, Dheda K, Denkinger CM, Schumacher SG, Steingart KR)

This new extensive review authored by Mikashmi Kohli and colleagues analysed the diagnostic accuracy of the Xpert assay for extrapulmonary TB by site of disease, or for rifampicin resistance. Extrapulmonary TB accounts for 15% of TB cases, but the proportion is increasing; this review includes diagnostic accuracy studies on TB meningitis,  pleural, lymph node, bone or joint, genitourinary, peritoneal, pericardial, and disseminated TB, as well as rifampicin resistance. 66 unique studies that evaluated 16,213 specimen were identified for inclusion; 50 studies took place in low‐ or middle‐income countries. Xpert results were measured against culture results (benchmark). In cerebrospinal fluid, pleural fluid, urine, and peritoneal fluid, Xpert was highly specific (98% or more), that is, did not register positive in people who were actually negative. Pooled Xpert sensitivity (defined by culture) varied across different types of specimens (31% in pleural tissue to 97% in bone or joint fluid), that is, the test registered positive in people who actually had TB. Regarding rifampicin resistance, Xpert pooled sensitivity and specificity were 95.0% and 98.7% respectively (high‐certainty evidence). The authors conclude that the Xpert assay may be helpful in confirming the diagnosis in people presumed to have extrapulmonary TB, and is accurate for detection of rifampicin resistance, but for people with presumed TB meningitis, treatment should be based on clinical judgement.

Drugs for treating Buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans disease) (Yotsu RR, Richardson M, Ishii N)

Buruli ulcer is a disease caused by a mycobacterium, which results in lumps in the skin and deep ulcers, often on the arms or the face. When diagnosed late, those affected may be left with lifelong disfigurements and disabilities. The disease is most prevalent in West Africa, but it is also found in non‐tropical areas including Australia and Japan. This new review by Rie Yotsu, Marty Richardson and Norihisa Ishii summarizes the evidence of drug treatments for treating Buruli ulcer. The authors identified 18 studies for inclusion: five RCTs involving a total of 319 participants, and 13 prospective observational studies, with 1665 participants. Studies evaluated various drugs usually in addition to surgery, and were carried out across eight countries in areas with high Buruli ulcer endemicity in West Africa and Australia.  The certainty of the evidence was very low. One RCT and one observational study evaluated monotherapy with clofazimine, and one RCT evaluated sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim. All three studies had small sample sizes, and no treatment effect was demonstrated. Different combination therapies were evaluated: rifampicin with streptomycin, rifampicin with clarithromycin, rifampicin with streptomycin initially, changing to rifampicin with clarithromycin in consolidation phase, and novel therapies (rifampicin combined with either ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, or moxifloxacin without surgery, or a combinations of two to three drugs from rifampicin, ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, ethambutol, moxifloxacin, or amikacin). Antibiotic combination treatments appeared to be effective, but the evidence was insufficient to show that any particular drug is more effective than another. Surgery also plays an important role in treating Buruli ulcer, and consequently the independent effect of drugs is difficult to assess.

Updated Review

Primary antifungal prophylaxis for cryptococcal disease in HIV‐positive people  (Awotiwon AA, Johnson S, Rutherford GW, Meintjes G, Eshun‐Wilson I) 

Cryptococcal disease is one of the leading causes of death for HIV‐positive people who have low CD4 counts. The aim of this updated review is to find out if taking an antifungal drug regularly, such as fluconazole, prevented HIV‐positive people who have low CD4 cell counts from getting cryptococcal disease, and what the potential complications were.  The original Cochrane review on this topic was published in 2005 (Chang 2005); the new review author team led by Ajibola Awotiwon has extensively revised the protocol. Nine trials, enrolling 5426 participants, met the inclusion criteria of this review. Six trials administered fluconazole, while three trials administered itraconazole. These trials were conducted in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK, the USA, Thailand, and sub‐Saharan Africa. Seven trials were conducted before the availability of modern antiretroviral therapy. The participants in two large trials received modern HIV treatment regimens. The results show that antifungal prophylaxis may have no effect on death overall, but it reduced the risk of those with low CD4 counts developing cryptococcal disease by 71%. Prophylaxis with an antifungal probably also reduced deaths specifically from cryptococcal disease. Generally, there were few side effects of taking antifungal prophylaxis, although there may be an increased risk of the vaginal tract becoming colonized with fluconazole‐resistant Candida organisms. The authors conclude that further research is not required to show the efficacy of primary antifungal prophylaxis in reducing the occurrence of cryptococcal disease, but analyses of the cost effectiveness and feasibility of implementing this intervention in different settings are needed.

2018, Issue 7

Two updated reviews and three new protocols are  available in Issue 7 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Treatment for HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis (Tenforde MWShapiro AERouse BJarvis JNLi TEshun-Wilson IFord N).

HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis is a severe fungal infection of the brain and surrounding membranes that causes about 15% of HIV-related deaths worldwide, mostly in resource-limited countries. Treatment includes initial antifungal therapy followed by continuation treatment with oral fluconazole. The objective of the review is to evaluate the best induction therapy to reduce mortality from HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis, and to compare side effect profiles of different therapies. This is an update of a review on the same topic last published in 2011; the new author team, led by Mark Tenforde, updated the protocol extensively, with changes in the inclusion criteria and methodology. The authors identified 13 studies with 2426 people for inclusion, which directly compared 21 different therapies. All studies were carried out in adults, and 11 out of 13 were conducted in resource-limited settings. Results show that a shorter initial treatment with one week of combined amphotericin B deoxycholate and flucytosine probably results in lower risk of death, similar clearance of the infection, and less toxicity than longer treatment with two weeks of the same combination, that has traditionally been recommended in treatment guidelines. Where amphotericin B deoxycholate cannot be given, two weeks of combined flucytosine with fluconazole is likely a good treatment option. Given the absence of data from studies in children, and limited data from high-income countries, this review’s  findings provide limited guidance for treatment in these patients and settings.

Early versus delayed antiretroviral treatment in HIV-positive people with cryptococcal meningtis (Eshun-Wilson IOkwen MPRichardson MBicanic T).

This is an update of a review last published in 2013; Ingrid Eshun-Wilson and colleagues have extensively revised the protocol. The aim of the review is to determine whether initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) within four weeks of cryptococcal meningitis treatment results in a higher risk of dying or developing other complications than waiting more than four weeks to initiate ART. This higher risk of death in the early ART group has been attributed to the occurrence of a condition called immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). The review includes 4 trials with 294 adult participants, all from low- and middle-income countries. Despite the low certainty of the evidence, results suggest that early ART initiation increases the risk of mortality compared to delaying ART beyond four weeks among HIV-positive adults with cryptococcal meningitis. Findings from this Cochrane Review contributed to the formulation of the current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention, and management of cryptococcal disease in HIV-positive adults, adolescents, and children (WHO 2018).

New Protocols

Drug therapy for Mycetoma (
Scolding PFahal AYotsu RR).

Measures of antiretroviral adherence for detecting viral non-suppression in people living with HIV (Hine PSmith REshun-Wilson IOrrell CCohen KLeeflang MMGFord N.)

Contact tracing strategies in household and congregate environments to identify cases of tuberculosis in low- and moderate-incidence populations (Braganza Menezes DMenezes BDedicoat M).


2018, Issue 6

New Review

One new  review is available in Issue 6, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Ribavirin for treating Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (Johnson SHenschke NMaayan NMills IBuckley BSKakourou AMarshall R).

In this new review, Samuel Johnson and colleagues investigate the effects of ribavirin for treating people with Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF). Infection with CCHF in people is usually due to a tick bite or by contact with infected bodily fluids from humans or animals; those at highest risk of contracting the virus are people who work outdoors in CCHF-endemic areas, those who work with large domestic animals, and healthcare workers. The disease occurs in parts of Asia, Europe and Africa but it has become more common in the last 15 years, particularly in Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe. CCHF is managed with supportive medical care (use of fluids, good nursing care, and blood products in response to changes in the blood's ability to clot), but the antiviral drug ribavirin is widely used in healthcare settings as a form of post-exposure prophylaxis for those exposed to CCHF. Prompt treatment with ribavirin following diagnosis of CCHF is included in several national guidelines, but these recommendations are not based on a robust evidence base, and this reviews aimed to summarize the data available to address whether ribavirin reduces the number of deaths from CCHF, and also assess its potentially serious, life-threatening adverse effects. The review includes 23 studies, of various designs, but because of poor quality there was insufficient reliable evidence to show whether ribavirin is effective in treating Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever.

2018, Issue 5

Updated Review

One updated review is available in Issue 5, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Vaccines for preventing typhoid fever  (Milligan R, Paul M, Richardson M, Neuberger A)

This is an update of the 2014 review, with some changes in the methods and inclusion criteria, and a new author team led by Rachel Milligan of the LSTM. The review now includes randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the following typhoid vaccines: Live oral vaccine Ty2la or genetic modifications, Vi polysaccharide vaccine, and conjugate vaccines. It excludes trials that evaluated killed whole-cell vaccines, because these vaccines are no longer in use. 18 RCTs are included: 13 evaluated efficacy, and 9 reported on adverse events. All trials but one took place in typhoid-endemic countries. There was no information on vaccination in adults aged over 55 years of age, pregnant women, or travellers; only one trial included data on children under two years of age. Results show that the two main vaccines currently licensed for use, Ty21a and Vi polysaccharide, were effective in reducing typhoid fever in adults and children over two years in endemic countries; adverse events such as nausea, vomiting, and fever were rare. The Vi-rEPA vaccine is just as efficacious, although data is only available for children. The new Vi-TT vaccine (PedaTyph) requires further evaluation to determine if it provides protection against typhoid fever. At the time of writing, there were only efficacy data from a human challenge setting in adults on the Vi-TT vaccine (Tybar), which is being tested in an ongoing field trial. 

2018, Issue 4

New Reviews

Two new reviews , are available in Issue 4, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Ivermectin and permethrin for treating scabies (Rosumeck S, Nast A, Dressler C)

In this new review, Stefanie Rosumeck and co-authors assess the efficacy and safety of topical permethrin and topical or systemic ivermectin to treat scabies in people of all ages. Scabies is an intensely itchy parasitic infection of the skin. It occurs throughout the world, but is particularly problematic in areas of poor sanitation, overcrowding, and social disruption. The review includes 15 relevant studies, nearly all set in South Asia or North Africa, with 1896 participants, comparing topical permethrin, systemic ivermectin, or topical ivermectin. Risk of bias in the included trials was moderate, and reporting was poor in many studies. Overall, there was no difference detected in the efficacy of permethrin compared to systemic or topical ivermectin, and all lead to high clearance rates in the treatment of scabies. Only few and mild adverse events were reported. The choice of one of these three treatments can be guided by considerations of practicability, availability, drug licensing, and costs depending on the individual setting: systemic ivermectin may be given preference if proper application cannot be ensured or if very large groups of patients need to be treated, but it is not indicated during pregnancy or for children weighing less than 15 kg. The included studies were mostly small and poorly reported, which affects the certainty of the level of evidence: further studies with clear and strict treatment regimens will help address the question of repeated treatment, and provide better documentation and classification of adverse events.

Smectite for acute infectious diarrhoea in children (Pérez-Gaxiola G, Cuello-García CA, Florez ID, Pérez-Pico VM) 

Smectite is a medicinal clay commonly prescribed throughout the world as an adjuvant treatment to adults and children with infectious diarrhoea. Smectite has three possible mechanisms of action: an anti-inflammatory activity, alteration of the gut mucus barrier to reduce penetration of toxins, and adsorptive properties, which would reduce stool output in children, thereby providing symptomatic relief and possibly preventing dehydration. This new review by Giordano Pérez-Gaxiola and colleagues analysed randomized and quasi-randomized trials comparing smectite to a control group in children aged one month to 18 years old with acute infectious diarrhoea. Eighteen trials with 2616 children are included; they were conducted in both ambulatory and in-hospital settings, in both high-income and low- or middle-income countries, and most of them included children with rotavirus infections. Results show that smectite used as an adjuvant to rehydration therapy may reduce the duration of diarrhoea in children with acute infectious diarrhoea by a day; may increase cure rate by day 3; and may reduce stool output, but has no effect on hospitalization rates or need for intravenous therapy. There were no reports of serious adverse effects. The included studies were of low-certainty evidence, and the authors conclude that more high-quality studies are still needed, including studies that assess different causes of diarrhoea and the economic effects of this treatment.

2018, Issue 3

New Reviews

Two new reviews , are available in Issue 3, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Mefloquine for preventing malaria in pregnant women (González RPons-Duran CPiqueras MAponte JJter Kuile FOMenéndez C)

In this new review, Raquel González and colleagues assess the effects of mefloquine for preventing malaria in pregnant women.  Mefloquine is a possible alternative to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), which is recommended by the World Health Organization for intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with for malaria for all women who live in moderate to high malaria transmission areas in Africa.  Parasite resistance to SP has been increasing steadily in some areas, and there are potential drug interactions between SP and cotrimoxazole, which is used for prophylaxis in HIV-infected women. This review evaluates the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of mefloquine for preventing malaria in pregnant women, also considering the impact of HIV status, gravidity, and use of insecticide-treated nets. Six trials conducted between 1987 and 2013, with a total of 8192 pregnant women, are included in this review. Mefloquine prophylaxis compared with SP in HIV-uninfected women, and mefloquine prophylaxis plus cotrimoxazole compared with cotrimoxazole  alone in HIV-infected women, reduced risks of maternal peripheral parasitaemia, made no difference in the prevalence of adverse maternal outcomes such as low birth weight, prematurity, stillbirths and abortions, and congenital malformations,  and in the incidence of clinical malaria episodes during pregnancy, but increased risks of drug-related adverse events, especially vomiting and dizziness. The authors conclude that mefloquine was efficacious and safe in terms of pregnancy outcomes, but the high proportion of mefloquine-related adverse events constitutes an important barrier to its effectiveness for malaria preventive treatment in pregnant women. Future research should concentrate on optimizing the dose of mefloquine that would provide the same antimalarial beneficial effects while reducing its drug-related adverse events.

Nutritional supplements for patients being treated for active visceral leishmaniasis (Custodio ELópez-Alcalde JHerrero MBouza CJimenez CStorcksdieck genannt Bonsmann SMouratidou TLópez-Cuadrado TBenito AAlvar J)

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania, transmitted by sandflies. VL has a worldwide distribution but 90% of the cases occur in just six countries: India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Brazil, causing an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 deaths annually, and 357,000 disability-adjusted life years lost (DALYs). Malnutrition is one of the poor prognostic factors identified for leishmaniasis, and this new review prepared by a team led by Estefanía Custodio, aimed to assess the effects of nutritional supplementation in people treated for VL. Searches for randomized controlled trials, quasi-randomized controlled trials, and non-randomized controlled trials, of any oral nutritional supplement, compared to no nutritional intervention, placebo, or dietary advice alone, in people being treated for VL, found no studies, either completed or ongoing, eligible for inclusion in the review. The authors conclude that this absence of evidence should not be interpreted as evidence of no effect for nutritional supplements in people under VL treatment.

2018, Issue 2

Two new protocols, one new review and one updated review  are available in Issue 2, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocols

Rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV (Mateo-Urdiales AJohnson SNachega JBEshun-Wilson I)

Impact of diagnostic test Xpert MTB/RIF® on health outcomes for tuberculosis (Haraka FNathavitharana RRSchumacher SGKakolwa MDenkinger CMGagneux SReither KRoss A)

New Review

Mosquito repellents for malaria prevention (Maia MF, Kliner M, Richardson M, Lengeler C, Moore SJ)

 In this new review, Marta Maia and colleagues assess the impact of mosquito repellents (which include topical repellents, insecticide-treated clothing, and mosquito coils) on malaria transmission. Considerable success against malaria has been achieved within the past decade mainly through long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), but elimination of the disease is proving difficult, as people are not protected against mosquitoes biting when outdoors or outside sleeping hours.  Also, there are situations where LLINs cannot be used, such as after a natural disaster or amongst displaced populations. Ten trials are included: 6 trials investigated topical repellents, 2 trials investigated insecticide-treated clothing, and 2 trials investigated spatial repellents. There was no conclusive evidence that topical repellents such as lotions can prevent clinical malaria or malaria infection. Insecticide-treated clothing (ITC) were investigated in trials conducted in refugee camps in Pakistan and amongst military based in the Colombian Amazon, which showed that ITC may reduce risk of malaria infection in the absence of insecticide-treated nets. Two studies, one in China and one in Indonesia,  investigated the practice of burning mosquito coils to reduce malaria infections; the study designs were substantially different and one study had high risk of bias, and it is not possible to draw any conclusions. The authors were unable to make well-informed recommendations with regard to including or not including topical repellents, ITC, or spatial repellents in malaria control programmes; the use of ITC in refugee camps or disaster situations may be useful, but further research is needed. 

 Updated Review

Primaquine or other 8-aminoquinolines for reducing Plasmodium falciparum transmission (Graves PMChoi LGelband HGarner P)

The last version of this review by Tricia Graves, Hellen Gelband and Paul Garner was published in 2015. This update adds a new author (Leslie Choi) to the team. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended a single dose of 0.25 mg/kg primaquine (PQ) be added to malaria treatment schedules in low-transmission areas or those with artemisinin resistance, in order to reduce malaria transmission, replacing the previous recommendation of 0.75 mg/kg, with the aim of reducing haemolysis risk in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, common in people living in malaria-endemic areas. This updated review includes 7 new trials, for a total of 25 trials: 2 trials comparing PQ and bulaquine (BQ), and 23 trials comparing PQ versus arms without PQ. The results show that a single low dose of PQ (0.25 mg/kg) added to artemisinin-based combinations reduces infectiousness of people to mosquitoes at day 3-4 and day 8, and appears as effective as the higher doses. The absolute effect is greater at day 3 or 4, and smaller at day 8, in part because of the lower infectiousness in the control group. There was no evidence of increased haemolysis at 0.25 mg/kg, but few G6PD-deficient individuals were included in the trials. However, there were no ideal studies reporting malaria transmission intensity in communities, and infectiousness to mosquito was measured by direct or membrane feeding, or using measures of potential infectiousness. It is unclear whether the observed reduction in infectiousness would actually have an impact on reducing community prevalence of malaria. 

2018, Issue 1

Three  new protocols  are available in Issue 1, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocols

Symptom screening for active tuberculosis in pregnant women living with HIV  (LaCourse SMCranmer LMBekker ASteingart KRBlack DHorne DJOren EPals SModi SMathad J)

Shortened treatment regimens versus the standard regimen for drug-sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis (Grace AGMittal AJain STripathy JPSatyanarayana STharyan PKirubakaran R)

MVA85A vaccine to enhance BCG for preventing tuberculosis (Kashangura RJullien SGarner PYoung TJohnson S)

2017, Issue 12

One  updated  review is available in Issue 12, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

 Updated Review 

Larvivorous fish for preventing malaria transmission  (Walshe DPGarner PAdeel AAPyke GHBurkot TR)

This review was first published in December 2013 and it has now been updated by Deirdre Walshe and colleagues.  The aim of the review is to evaluate whether introducing fish that eat mosquito larvae and pupae into water sources, will decrease the adult Anopheles mosquito population and thus the number of people infected with Plasmodium parasites. As in the first version of the review, the authors did not find any studies reporting on the primary outcomes of the review: malaria infection in nearby communities, entomological inoculation rate, or adult Anopheles density. A secondary analysis to examine the effects of introducing larvivorous fish on the density and presence of anopheline larvae and pupae in community water sources, found 15 small studies conducted in a variety of settings in different countries, but all studies were at high risk of bias and insufficient to determine any consistent effects on the density of Anopheles larvae and pupae. The authors conclude that there is insufficient evidence to support investing in larvivorous fish interventions without further reliable research. It is also unclear is whether this question is worth pursuing, as potential effects almost inevitably will be marginal given the large numbers of water bodies usually present in areas where malaria-transmitting Anopheles lay eggs, and some authors have raised the possibility that larvivorous fish may harm indigenous fish and frog species.

2017, Issue 11

One new protocol and one new review are available in Issue 11, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocol

Linezolid for drug-resistant tuberculosis  (Singh BCocker DRyan HSloan D)

New Review

Interventions to increase tuberculosis case detection at primary healthcare or community-level services (Mhimbira FACuevas LEDacombe RMkopi ASinclair D)

In this new review , Francis  Mhimbira and colleagues examine the effects of different strategies to increase tuberculosis (TB) case detection through improved  access  to TB diagnosis at primary healthcare or community-level services. These strategies may increase TB case detection by  identifying people with early TB who are not yet sufficiently unwell to seek care, or people with advanced TB who present late to health services, when the disease is already severe.  The review includes 9 cluster-randomized trials, one individual randomized trial, and 7 non-randomized controlled studies, all from high TB prevalence areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America. TB outreach screening, using house-to-house visits, sometimes combined with printed information about going to clinic, may increase TB case detection and lower default during treatment, but may have little or no effect on treatment success. There was insufficient evidence to determine if health promotion activities alone (through mass media or education) increase TB case detection, and to determine if sustained improvements in case detection impact on long-term tuberculosis prevalence, as the only study to evaluate this found no effect after four years. The authors conclude that when interventions are used in high-burden settings, active case-finding approaches may increase TB case detection in the short term, but it is unclear from the available evidence if they may improve treatment success and reduce tuberculosis treatment failure, mortality, and default.

2017, Issue 10

One new protocol and one  updated review are available in Issue 10, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Protocol

Methylene blue for treating malaria  (Calderón MWeitzel TRodriguez MFCiapponi A)

Updated Review

Mefloquine for preventing malaria during travel to endemic areas (Tickell-Painter MMaayan NSaunders RPace CSinclair D)

This  review, prepared by Maya Tickell-Painter and colleagues, replaces a previous Cochrane review by Frederique Jacquerioz and Ashley Croft and summarizes evidence on the efficacy and safety of mefloquine used as prophylaxis for malaria in travelers.  Mefloquine is widely used to prevent malaria in travelers and visitors to endemic areas, but there is controversy about its psychological side effects. The review’s inclusion criteria have been broadened to cover non-randomized studies, which can provide useful information regarding the side effect profile of mefloquine. The authors have compared prophylactic mefloquine with placebo, no treatment, or with alternative recommended antimalarial agents (atovaquone-proguanil or doxycycline) and analyzed data from 20 RCTs (11,470 participants), 35 cohort studies (198,493 participants), and 4 large retrospective analyses of health records (800,652 participants). The absolute risk to develop malaria during short-term travel appeared low with all three antimalarial agents tested. Mefloquine was not shown to have more frequent serious side effects than either atovaquone-proguanil or doxycycline, but the quality of evidence was low. There was moderate- and high-certainty evidence that mefloquine use is associated with a range of psychological adverse effects, such as abnormal dreams, anxiety, insomnia, and depressed mood, especially with long-term use.  

2017, Issue 9

Two updated reviews are available in Issue 9, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Vitamin A supplements for reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission (Wiysonge CSNdze VNKongnyuy EJShey MS)

The previous version of this review was published in 2011 and this update, led by Charles Wiysonge , sees some change in co-authors and a reduction in the number of secondary outcomes. The primary outcome has not changed and is the HIV infection status of the child. Vitamin A supplementation given to HIV-positive women during pregnancy and after delivery was suggested as a simple and inexpensive intervention that could potentially be implemented even in the absence of prenatal HIV testing programmes. The review includes 5 trials with approximately 7200 women, conducted in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe between 1995 and 2005. None of the participants received ART. Women allocated to intervention arms received vitamin A supplements at a variety of doses; the comparison arms received placebo or no intervention. Maternal vitamin A supplementation showed little or no effect on mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and may have some beneficial effect on birthweight by the evidence was low. However, this intervention has largely been superseded by ART which is widely available and effective in preventing vertical transmission, and the authors conclude that further research on the use of vitamin A supplements for this indication may not be warranted. 

Interventions for treating tuberculous pericarditis (Wiysonge CSNtsekhe MThabane LVolmink JMajombozi DGumedze FPandie SMayosi BM)

Charles Wiysonge and his team have prepared this review which is a new edition of the 2002 version. The updated review has new authors, additional trials, and different conclusion compared to the previous published version. Tuberculosis infection of the pericardium surrounding the heart is uncommon but life-threatening; in addition to antituberculous chemotherapy, treatments include corticosteroids, drainage, and surgery.  The review includes 7 trials, all from sub-Saharan Africa, with 1959 participants:  1051/1959 (54%) were HIV-positive. All trials evaluate corticosteroids and one each evaluates colchicine, M. indicus pranii immunotherapy, and open surgical drainage. In HIV-negative people, six trials found that additional steroids may reduce deaths overall, probably reduce deaths caused by pericarditis, and may prevent reaccumulation of fluid in the pericardial space. Open surgical drainage for effusion may reduce repeat pericardiocentesis In HIV-negative people. In the treatment of people living with HIV not on antiretroviral drugs, corticosteroids may reduce constrictive pericarditis and hospitalizations, with little or no effect on deaths. There was insufficient data to draw conclusions on the use of colchicine or Mycobacterium indicus pranii immunotherapy.

2017, Issue 8

Four  new protocols and one updated review  are available in Issue 8, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

 New Protocols 

 Updated Review

Moleen Zunza and her colleagues have updated this review, first published in 2009. Isoniazid prophylaxis prevents TB in HIV-negative children but it is not known whether it is also effective in HIV-positive children.  This review evaluates the effects of isoniazid preventive treatment versus placebo in HIV-positive children with no known TB contact on active TB, death, and reported adverse events.  The authors identified 3 trials for inclusion, involving 991 participants below the age of 13 years, from South Africa and Botswana. Most of the children were on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the median length of follow-up ranged from 5.7 to 34 months. In HIV-positive children not taking ART, isoniazid medication reduced the number of children developing active TB by 69%, and death by 54%. In in HIV-positive children taking ART, there was no benefit or harm taking isoniazid. The number of children with adverse effects was similar in the group receiving isoniazid medication or placebo, with or without taking ART. The authors suggest that any child awaiting ART in a high TB prevalence area, should have isoniazid prophylaxis until the child is virally suppressed and immune reconstituted.

 2017, Issue 7 

Three new protocols  are available in Issue 7, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

 New Protocols 

2017, Issue 6 

Two new protocols  are available in Issue 6, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

 New Protocols 

2017, Issue 5 

Two new reviews, one updated review and one new protocol are available in Issue 5, of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

 New Reviews

This new Diagnostic Test Accuracy (DTA) review assesses the accuracy of commercially-available rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and their prototypes for detecting typhoid and paratyphoid (enteric) fever in people living in endemic countries. These RDTs are available as alternatives to the current reference standard test of blood or bone marrow culture, or to the widely used Widal Test, but their diagnostic accuracy is unclear. Lalith Wijedoru and his co-authors identified 37 eligible studies with 5080 participants, which evaluated 16 different RDTs.  Most included studies were from Asia, with 5 from sub-Saharan Africa, and evaluated three RDTs and their variants: TUBEX, Typhidot, and the Test-It Typhoid immunochromatographic lateral flow assay.  The authors found that few studies were at a low risk of bias, and that the 3 main RDT tests and variants had moderate diagnostic accuracy, with no evidence of differences between their average sensitivity and specificity. The RDTs evaluated are not sufficiently accurate to replace blood culture as a diagnostic test for enteric fever.

Jennifer Onwumeh, Charles Okwundu and Tamara Kredo in this new review evaluate the effects of IL-2 as an adjunct to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in reducing the morbidity and mortality in HIV-positive adults. IL-2 is a cytokine that regulates the proliferation and differentiation of lymphocytes and may help to boost the immune system, which is harmed by HIV infection, and help in the control of viral replication as well as lead to lower susceptibility to opportunistic infections.  The authors identified 25 trials for inclusion; 11 were conducted in academic centres in the USA and the others in 6 different countries.  IL-2 in combination with ART increased the CD4 cell count in HIV-positive adults, but it did not show any significant benefit in mortality. There were probably no differences in the incidence of opportunistic infections, but there was probably an increase in grade 3 or 4 adverse effects. The findings of this review do not support the use of IL-2 as an adjunct to ART in HIV-positive adults, and the authors conclude that further trials are not justified.

Updated Review 

This update of a Cochrane Review previously published in 2010 assesses the effects of micronutrient supplements for adults living with HIV (excluding pregnant women). Micronutrient deficiencies are common among in HIV+ adults, particularly in low-income settings where the diet may be low in essential vitamins and minerals, and routine supplementation could therefore be beneficial. Marianne Visser and colleagues identified 17 new trials for this update, and the review now includes 33 trials with 10,325 participants. Some trials looked at the effects of taking supplements with multiple micronutrients whereas others looked at supplementation with single vitamins or minerals such as vitamins A and D, zinc, and selenium.  Daily supplements containing multiple vitamins and minerals showed little or no effect on reducing deaths in people living with HIV, and none of the trials of single or dual micronutrient supplements were adequately powered to assess for their effects on mortality or morbidity. The authors conclude that although the available trials have not revealed consistent clinically important benefits, these findings do not mean that an adequate dietary intake for people living with HIV is not important or that micronutrient supplements should be denied to people in whom a deficiency has been clinically demonstrated.

New Protocol 

2017, Issue 3

One new and one updated review are available in Issue 3 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

In this new review, Ingrid van der Heijden and colleagues examine whether group therapy can improve the well-being of adults living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV causes a chronic, life threatening, and often stigmatising disease, which can impact on a person's psychological well-being, and group therapy could help people living with HIV to cope wit the condition, or recover from depression, anxiety, and stress. Group interventions include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and others such as relaxation techniques and stress management, problem solving and coping skills, social or peer support, education and empowerment. The review includes 16 trials conducted in the USA (12 trials), Canada (one trial), Switzerland (one trial), Uganda (one trial), and South Africa (one trial), with a total of 2520 adults living with HIV. Group-based therapy based on CBT showed a small effect on measures of depression, lasting for up to 15 months and little or no effect on measures of anxiety, stress, and coping. Group interventions based on mindfulness were studied in two small trials, and had not demonstrated effects on measures of depression, anxiety or stress. The quality of evidence was overall low, and the authors conclude that existing group interventions have little to no effect in increasing psychological adjustment to living with HIV, and more good quality studies are required.

Updated Review

A new team led by Hannah Ryan has just completed an update of this review, which was first published in 1998, after revising the protocol and altering the outcomes of interest. Some clinicians believe that corticosteroids used in combination with antituberculous drugs can speed up the recovery from TB pleurisy and help to prevent long-term complications, but research findings have been inconsistent and there is some concern regarding the potential adverse effects of corticosteroids, especially in HIV-positive people. The updated review includes 6 trials with 590 participants, conducted in Asia (3 trials), Africa (2 trials), and Europe (1 trial). Two trials were in HIV-negative people, one trial was in HIV-positive people, and three trials did not report HIV status. Corticosteroids may reduce the time to resolution of the symptoms of TB pleurisy and the time to resolution of the pleural effusion on chest X-ray, as well as reduce the risk of having signs of pleural scarring. However, they may increase the risk of adverse events leading to discontinuation of the trial drug. As the risk of disability and long-term illness after TB pleurisy is unclear, research looking at the association between TB pleurisy and lung function impairment would be useful to inform future research into corticosteroids for TB pleurisy.

2016, Issue 12

Three updated reviews are available in Issue 12 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Marzia Lazzerini and her co-authors have updated this review, from January 2013. The author team has been amended, the 'Summary of findings' tables have been updated according to the GRADE approach, and a PRISMA study flow diagram has been added.  The review now includes 33 trials with 10,841 children aged one month to five years with acute or persistent diarrhoea, including dysentery, who received oral zinc supplements or placebo. The majority of the data is from Asia, from countries at high risk of zinc deficiency. In children older than six months, zinc supplementation may shorten the average duration of diarrhoea by around ½ day, and probably reduces the number of children whose diarrhoea persists until day seven. These effects are not present in children aged less than six months, but they are greater in children with malnutrition.  In children with persistent diarrhoea, zinc supplementation probably shortens the average duration of diarrhoea by around 16 hours.  Zinc administration can induce vomit (because of a metallic aftertaste), but development of a more palatable formulation may minimize this problem. The author conclude that In areas where diarrhoea is an important cause of child mortality, and the prevalence of zinc deficiency or mild/moderate malnutrition is high, zinc may be of benefit in children with diarrhoea aged six months or more.  Further research is necessary to justify continued supplementation in children less than six months of age and in children with low risk of zinc deficiency. 

This review was last published in 2009, and this update includes 'Summary of findings' tables prepared according to the GRADE approach. Germana Gregorio and her team have identified one new trial and the review now includes 35 trials with 4284 participants (2304 using polymer-based ORS and 1980 using glucose-based ORS). Polymer-based ORS are in fact “food-based” rehydration solutions made of water mixed with cooked rice, wheat, or maize, and children may like them more than salt and sugar solution, which is the standard medical treatment. Most trials compared polymer-based ORS with a sugar–salt ORS with a particular strength (ORS ≥ 310), which is slightly more salty than the currently agreed best formula (≤ 270 mOsm/L). Results showed that polymer-based ORS has advantages compared to glucose-based ORS (at ≥ 310 mOsm/L); comparisons also favoured polymer -based ORS over ORS ≤ 270, but the quality of evidence was poor.  No difference was observed between the groups regarding the number of people who needed a drip to be rehydrated, and adverse events were similar. More trials are needed comparing polymer-based ORS versus sugar-salt ORS ≤ 270 mOsm/L. 

This review  by Lawrence Mbuagbaw and colleagues updates the original, first published in 2010, with the aim to determine which non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor(NNRTI) , either efavirenz (EFV) or nevirapine (NVP), is more effective in suppressing viral load when given in combination with two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) as part of initial antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection. Five new studies have been added and the review now includes 12 RCTs with 3278 participants, all adults – no trials in children were identified. Four trials included people who were also receiving treatment for tuberculosis. There was little or no difference in suppression of HIV infection, probably little or no difference in mortality, progression to AIDS, stopping treatment early and changes in blood cells affected by HIV, and there may be little or no difference in treatment failure. NVP given at the once daily dose of 400 mg led to higher mortality rates than EFV. Both drugs can cause severe adverse effects, affecting different systems:  EFV is more likely to affect mental function, while NVP is more likely to cause signs of liver damage, reduced white blood cells and rash. The authors conclude that EFV and NVP have similar clinical efficacies, and clinicians need to determine which is the more appropriate for their patients by weighing other factors like availability, cost, and concomitant medication. They must also consider individual tolerability and watch carefully for side-effects. 

2016, Issue 11

Three new reviews are available in Issue 11 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Reviews

Vitamin D in its two forms (D2 and D3), is essential for bone growth and is therefore especially important in children.

Both vitamin D2 and D3 are obtained from food such as fish liver oils, eggs, and milk; however, we obtain most of our vitamin D (as vitamin D3) by synthesizing it directly when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Childhood vitamin D deficiency is common both in LMIC and high income countries, for several reasons such as lack of sunlight in the winter months, vegetarian diets, a dark pigmented skin (as melanin acts as a natural sunscreen), increased pollution, and wearing clothes covering most of the body. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, characterized by weak and deformed bones, and it has also been associated with other infections such as tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and malaria. This review, by Mohammad Yakoob and colleagues, analyses vitamin D supplementation to prevent infections, in 4 trials with a total of 3198 children under five years of age, conducted in Afghanistan, Spain, and the USA, countries with wide differences in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.  Evidence from the largest trial (in Afghanistan) did not demonstrate any benefit of vitamin D supplementation on the incidence of pneumonia or diarrhoea, and the authors did not find any trial that reported on the incidence of TB, malaria or febrile illness, duration of pneumonia, duration of diarrhoea, severity of infection, and cause-specific mortality. The authors conclude that whether further trials are worthwhile in areas with low baseline vitamin D deficiency is a judgement that needs to be made carefully against other competing resources for research.

The school environment plays an important role in the development of children and young people, and school-based sexuality education programmes have become popular in many regions of the world. Most of these programs are based on behavioural science theories, and aim to improve knowledge, change attitudes, intentions, behaviours, and social norms around sexual and reproductive health. There have been a large number of systematic reviews that evaluated the effectiveness of these programmes, but most of them have used self-reported sexual behaviours as their main outcomes, which have been found to be prone to bias and unreliable. In this new review, Amanda Mason-Jones and her colleagues have used biological outcome measures i.e. incidence of HIV or other STIs, or pregnancy. The review includes 8 cluster-RCTs with 55,157 participants: 5 trials were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, one in Latin America and two in Europe.  Sexual and reproductive health education programmes alone showed no effect on the number of young people infected with HIV or other STIs during adolescence, or the number of adolescent pregnancies. Giving monthly cash, or free school uniforms, to encourage students to stay in school probably has no effect on the number of young people infected with HIV during adolescence, and may reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies (low certainty evidence). One trial assessed combined educational and incentive-based programmes showing that they  may reduce STIs (low certainty evidence) in young women, but no effect was detected for HIV or pregnancy.

Abdominal tuberculosis (TB) affects the gut, the peritoneum, abdominal lymph nodes, and, more rarely, the solid organs in the abdomen (liver, pancreas, and spleen), and leads to severe illness in adults and children, with possible complications, such as bowel rupture, which can cause death. Most current guidelines recommend treating people that have abdominal TB with antituberculous treatment (ATT) for six months, but some clinicians treat for longer periods due to concerns that six months is not adequate to achieve cure and prevent relapses.  Longer ATT, however, is associated with poor adherence, higher risk of side effects, and higher cost to health systems and to patients.   In this new review, Sophie Jullien and colleagues analyse data from three RCTs, with 328 participants, comparing six-month regimens with nine-month regimens to treat adults with intestinal and peritoneal TB. All trials were conducted in Asia, and excluded people with HIV, those with co-morbidities and those who had received ATT in the previous five years. Antituberculous regimens were based on isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. Relapse was uncommon in both shorter and longer treatment groups, and the proportion of participants who achieved clinical cure or defaulted from treatment was small in both groups.  There were 2/150 deaths (1.3%) in the six-month group and 4/144 (2.8%) in the nine-month group, but they all occurred in the first four months of treatment, so were not linked to the duration of treatment.  Six-month regimens are probably as good as nine-month regimens in terms of numbers of people cured, but more trials may be needed about treating abdominal TB in children and in people with HIV.

2016, Issue 9

One new review ,one updated review and one new protocol are available in Issue 9 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New Review

Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is the main form of tuberculosis that affects the central nervous system and is associated with high rates of death and disability. Longer antituberculous treatment (ATT) regimens for TBM than for pulmonary tuberculosis are recommended to prevent relapse, but the longer regimens are associated with poor adherence.  In this new review, Sophie Jullien and colleagues analyse data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and prospective cohort studies of adults and children with TBM, treated with ATT regimens that included rifampicin for six months or longer than six months. Four RCTs and 12 prospective cohort studies with a total of 1881 participants are included in the review: 7 studies with 458 participants that evaluated six months of treatment, and 12 studies with 1423 participants that evaluated longer treatment.   TB relapse was an uncommon event across all studies; few participants defaulted from treatment, but adherence was not clearly documented. There was a higher death rate in participants treated for longer than six months, probably reflecting differences between the participants in the two groups of studies. The authors conclude that, as this was observational data, and most participants were HIV negative, there is the need for well-designed RCTs, or large prospective cohort studies, to resolve the uncertainty regarding the safety and efficacy of six months regimens for TBM.

Updated Review

Genotype® MTBDRsl (MTBDRsl) is a rapid DNA-based test for detecting specific mutations associated with resistance to fluoroquinolones and second-line injectable drugs (SLIDs) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. This is an update from the 2014 review, performed as part of a World Health Organization process to develop updated guidelines for using MTBDRsl.  Grant Theron and colleagues have summarized evidence from 27 studies – 16 of them evaluated version 1.0 of the test, and one study version 2.0, released in 2015. The analysis shows that in people with rifampicin-resistant or MDR-TB, MTBDRsl performed on a culture isolate or smear-positive specimen may be useful in detecting second-line drug resistance. MTBDRsl (smear-positive specimen) correctly classified around six in seven people as having fluoroquinolone or SLID resistance, although the sensitivity estimates for SLID resistance varied. The test rarely gave a positive result for people without drug resistance. However, when second-line drug resistance is not detected (MTBDRsl result is negative), conventional DST can still be used to evaluate patients for resistance to the fluoroquinolones or SLIDs. The authors recommend that future work evaluate MTBDRsl version 2.0, in particular on smear-negative specimens and in different settings to account for different resistance-causing mutations that may vary by strain.

New Protocol

2016, Issue 6

One review update and two new protocols are available in Issue 6 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated Reviews

Liesl Grobler and colleagues completed this Cochrane review update on the effects of nutritional supplements for people being treated for tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which most commonly affects the lungs. People with tuberculosis are often malnourished, and malnourished people are at higher risk of developing tuberculosis as their immune system is weakened. Nutritional supplements could help people recover from the illness by strengthening their immune system, and by improving weight gain and muscle strength, allowing them to return to an active life. The review authors searched for relevant studies up to 4 February 2016, and included 35 studies with 8283 participants. Food or energy supplements may improve weight gain during recovery from tuberculosis in some settings, but there is currently no evidence that they improve tuberculosis treatment outcomes. There is also currently no reliable evidence that routinely supplementing above the recommmended daily amounts has clinical benefits.

New Protocols

2016, Issue 5

Two  new reviews and one new protocol are available in Issue 5, 2016 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New reviews

Maunank Shah, Karen Steingart and their team have completed this new review, which assesses the accuracy of the lateral flow urine lipoarabinomannan assay (LF-LAM) for active TB diagnosis or screening in HIV+ adults. LF-LAM is a commercially available point-of-care test, which is performed by placing urine on one end of a test strip, with positive results appearing as a coloured line. The test is simple, requires no special equipment, and shows results in 25 minutes. The review includes 12 studies: 6 evaluated LF-LAM for TB diagnosis and 6 for TB screening; all studies were conducted in low- or middle-income countries. LF-LAM was found to have low sensitivity to detect TB in adults living with HIV, whether it was used for diagnosis or screening. For TB diagnosis, the combination of LF-LAM with sputum microscopy suggests an increase in sensitivity for TB compared to either test alone, but with a decrease in specificity. However, in HIV-positive people with low CD4 counts who are seriously ill, LF-LAM may help with the diagnosis of TB.  The results of the review should be interpreted with caution as there are small number of studies and participants included in the analyses.

This new review was prepared by a team led by Carmen Gallardo, and it analysed data from trials comparing oral treatment for pulmonary TB in new patients, given as fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) that are combined in one tablet, or taken separately as single-drug formulations. FDCs are recommended by the WHO as they reduce the number of tablets that people take - this might reduce prescribing errors, and improve drug supply efficiency and patients’ adherence. The review includes 13 randomized controlled trials that enrolled 5824 people. Overall there was little or no difference between FDCs and single-drug formulations for most outcomes (treatment failure, relapse, death). There was no relevant difference for sputum smear or culture conversion at the end of treatment, for serious adverse events, and for adverse events that led to discontinuation of therapy. The authors conclude that, although there were no differences in clinical outcomes between the 2 regimens, FDCs may be more advisable than single-drug formulations in settings where there is no directly observed therapy (DOT), in order to ensure treatment compliance and avoid resistance.

New protocol

2016, Issue 4

Two  updated reviews and one new protocol are available in Issue 4, 2016 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated  reviews

This review was first published in 2008, and this update includes results from a new search, as well as an assessment of the quality of the evidence using GRADE, and 'Summary of findings' tables. There were also changes in the authors’ team, led by Arianna Rubin Means; the title has been amended, and outcomes now include also anaemia and adverse events. Helminth infections affect the human immune system, and in people with HIV they may compromise a person's ability to control HIV viral replication. Thus, treatment of helminth infections could have important benefits for people living with HIV. The review now includes 8 trials (7 from sub-Saharan Africa and one from Thailand) with 1612 participants. Treating  HIV-positive adults with deworming drugs (either without knowledge of their helminth infection status, or with diagnosed helminth infections)  may have a small suppressive effect on viral load at six weeks , but repeated dosing over two years appears to have little or no effect on either viral load  or CD4+ cells. There was no additional risk for HIV+ people in taking antihelminthic drugs, but adverse events were generally not well reported. Further long-term studies are required to make confident conclusions.

Kameshwar Prasad, Mamta B Singh and Hannah Ryan are the authors of this review, last updated in 2008, and now extensively revised: the search was updated, and  Hannah Ryan re-extracted and analysed the data, revised the 'Risk of bias' assessment, constructed a 'Summary of findings' table with GRADE assessment, and revised the Background, Results, and Discussion sections. Corticosteroids are commonly used in addition to antituberculous drugs for treating people with TB meningitis, a serious form of TB that causes headache, coma and death. Dexamethasone, methylprednisolone, or prednisolone helps reduce inflammation of the surface of the brain and blood vessels, probably decreasing pressure inside the brain, and reducing the risk of death. However, some clinicians are concerned that corticosteroids may improve survival, but result in more severely disabled survivors. Nine trials with 1337 participants are included in the review. Corticosteroids were found to reduce mortality from tuberculous meningitis, at least in the short term, but may have no effect on the number of people who survive tuberculous meningitis with disabling neurological deficit.

New protocol

2016, Issue 3

One  new protocol is available in Issue 3, 2016 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New protocol

2016, Issue 2

One updated review and one new protocol are available in Issue 2, 2016 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated  review

 This review was first published in 2009 and it has been now updated, with changes in the author’s team, still led by Mical Paul, and with a focus on areas with hyperendemic or holoendemic transmission of malaria (but also including trials conducted in other areas which report malaria-related outcomes). In areas where anaemia is common, health providers may give children iron tablets, with or without folic acid, in order to prevent anaemia. There is a concern amongst researchers that this may increase the risk of malaria because increased iron levels in the blood may promote the growth of the Plasmodium parasite. Results from 35 trials with 31,955 children show that iron did not cause an excess of clinical malaria in children, whether they were living in areas where anaemia is common or in those where it’s uncommon. Iron supplements may reduce clinical malaria in areas where there are prevention and management services for malaria, but increase the incidence of malaria in areas where such services are unavailable.  Iron supplementation did not cause an excess of severe malaria, and there were no differences for deaths. In conclusion, routine iron supplementation should not be withheld from children living in countries where malaria is prevalent and malaria management services are available.

New protocol

2016, Issue 1

One new review and one new protocol are available in Issue 1, 2016 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

 This new review, prepared by Cesar Henriques-Camacho and colleagues from Peru, the US and Spain, assesses the effects of ivermectin versus benzimidazoles (albendazole and thiabendazole), which are used for treating chronic strongyloides infection. Strongyloidiasis is caused by the intestinal parasitic worm Strongyloides stercoralis, found in tropical and subtropical regions. Most people remain asymptomatic but chronic infection can cause skin rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, and respiratory problems, and can be fatal in people with immune deficiency. This review includes 7  randomized controlled trials, enrolling 1147 adults with chronic strongyloides infection, conducted between 1994 and 2011 in different locations.   Parasitological cure was higher with ivermectin than with albendazole; there was little or no difference in parasitological cure between ivermectin and thiabendazole.  There were more adverse events with thiabendazole than with ivermectin. However, there were no serious adverse events or death. Further trials may help investigate the effect of different doses of ivermectin in different group of patients, and identify the optimal  treatment for vulnerable populations.

New protocol

2015, Issue 10

One updated  review is  available in Issue 10,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of  Systematic Reviews

Updated review

Thomas Clasen and his team have updated this review, which now includes 55 studies enrolling over 84,000 participants. Source-based water quality improvement include providing protected groundwater (springs, wells, and bore holes), or harvested rainwater, as an alternative to surface sources (rivers and lakes). Alternatively water may be treated at the point-of-use in people's homes by boiling, chlorination, flocculation, filtration, or solar disinfection. Most included studies were conducted in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) (50 studies), with unimproved water sources (30 studies), and unimproved or unclear sanitation (34 studies). There is not enough  evidence to know if source-based improvements in water supplies, such as protected wells and communal tap stands or treatment of communal supplies, consistently reduce diarrhoea in low-income settings; there are no trials evaluating reliable piped-in water supplies to people's homes. Distributing disinfection products for use in the home may reduce diarrhoea cases by one quarter to one third, depending on the product used;  water filtration at home probably reduces diarrhoea by around a half.  Distributing plastic bottles with instructions to leave filled bottles in direct sunlight for at least six hours before drinking probably reduces diarrhoea by around a third. Evidence also suggests that the more people use the various interventions for improving water quality, the larger the effects, so it is important to assess programmatic approaches to optimize coverage and long-term utilization of interventions to improve water quality.

2015, Issue 9

Two  updated  reviews are available in Issue 9,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of  Systematic Reviews

Updated reviews

The latest update of this review has a slightly modified title and a larger authors’ team, led by Elizabeth Lutge. Interventions included any form of material incentive to return for TB test results, or adhere to, or complete anti-TB treatment. These may have been direct such as cash or vouchers for groceries, or indirect such as the provision of a service for which the patient would have had to pay, such as transport to and from the clinic. The review includes 12 trials: 10 from the USA (one in adolescents, 4 in injection drug or cocaine users, 3 in homeless adults, and 2 in prisoners).  The remaining two trials, in general adult populations, were conducted in Timor-Leste and South Africa. Two trials assessed the effect of incentives on long-term adherence and completion of treatment for active TB, and did not demonstrate a clear benefit. Three trials assessed the effects of material incentives and enablers on completion of TB prophylaxis, with mixed results; however, in specific populations, such as recently released prisoners, drug users, and the homeless, trials show that material incentives probably do improve one-off clinic re-attendance for initiation or continuation of anti-TB prophylaxis. When comparing different types of incentives, an immediate cash incentive seemed more effective than delaying the incentive until completion of treatment; cash incentives appeared  more effective than non-cash incentives; and higher cash incentives were more effective than lower cash incentives.

This review, prepared by Regina Ejemot-Nwadiaro and colleagues, has replaced the original publication in 2008, with a new title that introduces the concept of promotion. This includes group or individual training on hygiene education, germ-health awareness, use of posters, leaflets, comic books, songs, and drama. The review includes 22 randomized controlled trials conducted in both high-income countries (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), enrolling 69,309 children and 148 adults. Hand washing promotion at child day-care facilities or schools in HICs prevents around 30% of diarrhoea episodes, and may prevent a similar proportion in schools in low and middle income countries (LMICs).  Among communities in LMICs, hand washing promotion prevents around 28% of diarrhoea episodes. In the only hospital-based trial included in this review, hand washing promotion also had important reduction in the mean episodes of diarrhoea; the trial however had only few participants. None of the included trials assessed the effect of handwashing promotion on diarrhoeal-related deaths, all-cause under-five mortality, or the cost-effectiveness of hand washing promotions. Also, not much is known about how to help people maintain hand washing habits in the longer term.

2015, Issue 8

One new review and one new protocol are available in Issue 8, 2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

Leishmaniasis is a tropical disease that potentially affects 350 million, often impoverished, people, across 98 countries. The disease is caused by Leishmania parasites, and has two distinct clinical syndromes: cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), which affects the skin and mucous membranes, and visceral leishmaniasis (VL), which affects internal organs. Leishmaniasis could be prevented by reducing human contact with infected phlebotomine sandflies (the vector), or by reducing the number of infected animals (the reservoir). In this new Cochrane Review, Urbà González and his colleagues have analysed 14 trials of vector and reservoir control interventions, which were undertaken in different settings; most included trials were of low methodological quality. Using insecticides appeared to reduce CL incidence, but there is not enough evidence to know whether it is better to use insecticides to spray the internal walls of houses, or use insecticide-treated bednets, bedsheets, or curtains. Personal protection using insecticide-treated clothing was also evaluated in two trials in soldiers, but the trials were too small to know whether or not this was effective.  For VL, insecticide-treated nets may not be effective at preventing disease, but this was only tested in a single trial from India and Nepal.

New protocol

2015, Issue 7

One  updated  review is available in Issue 7,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated review

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends treating all school children at regular intervals with deworming drugs in areas where helminth infection is common, with the assumption that this treatment will improve nutritional status, haemoglobin and cognition and consequently children’s health, intellect and school attendance. There is also a considerable investment in delivering this intervention and it is imperative to critically evaluate the evidence on its benefits. David Taylor-Robinson and colleagues have added 4 new studies to their 2012 edition of the review, for a total of 45 trials. One trial evaluating mortality included over one million children, and the remaining 44 trials included a total of 67,672 participants. In trials that treat only children known to be infected, deworming drugs may increase weight gain but we do not know if there is an effect on cognitive functioning or physical well-being.  Deworming had little or no effect on average weight gain, haemoglobin, or cognition in trials treating all children living in an endemic area. There is good evidence that regular treatment probably has no effect on average height, formal tests of cognition, or exam performance, and do not know if there is an effect on school attendance. The authors conclude that large scale programmes to deworm all school children in low income countries do not lead to the acclaimed educational and economic benefits, and call for policy makers to look again at the evidence in a systematic way, in order to re-think current WHO recommendations. 

 2015, Issue 5

One  updated  review is available in Issue 5,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Updated review

Jamlick Karumbi has replaced Jimmy Volmink as an author, together with Paul Garner, in the update of this review, last published in 2007. Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is a specific strategy, endorsed by the World Health Organization, to improve adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment, by requiring health workers, community volunteers or family members to observe and record patients taking each dose. This review includes 11 trials with 5662 participants comparing DOT with routine self-administration of treatment or prophylaxis in a variety of settings (clinic, the patient's home or the home of a community volunteer). Overall, cure and treatment completion in both self-treatment and DOT groups was low, and DOT did not substantially improve this. There were no differences when DOT was conducted at home or at the clinic, or by a community health worker or family member; also, DOT had little or no effect on treatment completion in injection drug users. The authors conclude that DOT does not provide a solution to poor adherence in TB treatment, and given the large resource and cost involved, policy makers might want to reconsider TB control strategies that depend on direct observation.   

2015, Issue 4

Two new protocols and one new review are available in Issue 4,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

Tafenoquine is an 8-aminoquinoline and a synthetic analogue of primaquine, which is the only licensed drug capable of eliminating the Plasmodium vivax hypnozoites. Tafenoquine has been tested as an alternative to primaquine as it has potential to be useful in regimens for prophylaxis and radical cure of P. vivax malaria. Tafenoquine has shorter duration of therapy and this makes it an attractive option to improve adherence. A Sri Lankan author team led by Senaka Rajapakse, identified three RCTs conducted in Thailand, India, Peru and Brazil on adults with confirmed P. vivax malaria that randomized 453 participants, for inclusion in the review. All participants received chloroquine (to clear the parasites in the blood) and some groups received either tafenoquine, primaquine or no further treatment. All trials tested people for G6PD enzyme, and excluded patients who were deficient, as both primaquine and tafenoquine can cause haemolysis in these individuals. Patients receiving tafenoquine at doses greater than 300 mg had fewer relapses than adults who had no further treatment, and tafenoquine 600 mg may be better in relapse prevention than standard primaquine doses. The drug is still untested in pregnancy, children and in G6PD-deficient people.

New protocols 

2015, Issue 3

One new review is available in Issue 3,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

This new review prepared by Eleanor Ochodo and her team evaluates point-of-care (POC) tests for diagnosing schistosomiasis. POC tests include assays based on circulating antigen detection and urine reagent strip tests, which are quick and easier to use in the field, and, if they show sufficient diagnostic accuracy, they could replace conventional microscopy. This review evaluated urine reagent strip tests to detect active Schistosoma haematobium infection, with microscopy as the reference standard; and circulating antigen tests for detecting active Schistosoma infection in geographical regions endemic for Schistosoma mansoni or S. haematobium or both, with microscopy as the reference standard. 90 studies involving almost 200,000 people were included (88 from field settings in Africa). For detecting urinary schistosomiasis, urine strips for detecting blood were better than those detecting protein or white cells, and the parasite antigen test performance was worse than urine strips for detecting blood. For intestinal schistosomiasis, the circulating parasite antigen urine test detected many infections identified by microscopy, but wrongly labelled many uninfected people as positive. Studies were in general poorly reported.

2015, Issue 2

One new review, one updated review and two new protocols are available in Issue 2,  2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for treating people with Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Five combinations are currently recommended, all administered over three days. Artemisinin-naphthoquine is a new combination developed in China, which is being marketed as a one-day treatment. This review prepared by Rachel Isba and colleagues compares  the efficacy and safety of artemisinin-naphtoquine against established WHO-recommended ACTs  regimes (3 days) , in adults and children suffering from P.falciparum malaria. Only 4 trials, all of low quality, enrolling 740 adults and children, met the inclusion criteria: 3 small trials compared artemisinin-naphthoquine to artemether-lumefantrine and one small trial compared it to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine.   Artemisinin-naphthoquine showed very low treatment failure in all trials; this is a promising result but it needs to be confirmed by larger multi-setting trials.

 Updated review

This review by Patricia Graves, Helen Gelband and Paul  Garner  has been updated with a new search but no added trials and no change to conclusions.  Primaquine (PQ)is an antimalarial drug which does not cure malaria illness, but is known to kill the gametocyte stage of the malaria parasite which infects mosquitoes when they bite humans.  The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010 recommended adding a single dose of PQ to malaria treatment in order to reduce malaria transmission and to contribute to malaria elimination; in 2013 the recommended dose of PQ was reduced to 0.25 mg/kg due to concerns about safety, especially in people with G6PD deficiency. The review includes 17 RCT and one quasi-RCT and aims to assess whether PQ, or an alternative 8AQ, alongside treatment for P. falciparum malaria reduces malaria transmission, and to estimate the frequency of severe or haematological adverse events. The authors conclude that in individual patients, PQ added to malaria treatments reduces gametocyte prevalence when given in doses greater than 0.4 mg/kg. Two small studies reported a strong reduction in infectiousness, but no trials assessed whether this policy has an impact on community malaria transmission.  Overall the safety of PQ given as a single dose was poorly evaluated across all studies.

New protocols

2015, Issue 1

One new review and one new protocol are available in Issue 1, 2015 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

New review

Anaemia is a global problem, particularly in in children under five years in Africa and South-East Asia. Malaria is a common cause of anemia in these areas, and administering intermittent preventive antimalarial treatment (IPT) to children might reduce anaemia, as well as protect from new malaria infections, allow faster recovery from the illness, and help make the children less likely to succumb to other infections. Mwaka Athuman and her co-authors in this new review have included six randomised controlled trials which included 3847 participants; three trials were conducted in areas of low malaria endemicity and three in areas of high endemicity. In some trials, iron supplements were also given to children. In all trials there was a group that received IPT and a control group that were given a placebo. Although there were small benefits in haemoglobin levels when treating anaemic children with IPT, there was no effect on death or hospital admissions, irrespective of whether they received iron supplements. However, three of the six included trials were conducted in low endemicity areas where malaria transmission is low and thus any protective effect is likely to be modest.

New protocol