Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Control of scabies, skin sores and haematuria in children in the Solomon Islands: another role for ivermectin

Gregor Lawrence, Judson Leafasia, John Sheridan, Susan Hills, Janet Wate, Christine Wate, Janet Montgomery, Nirmala Pandeya, & David Purdie

ABSTRACT

Objective

To assess the effects of a 3-year programme aimed at controlling scabies on five small lagoon islands in the Solomon Islands by monitoring scabies, skin sores, streptococcal skin contamination, serology and haematuria in the island children.

Methods

Control was achieved by treating almost all residents of each island once or twice within 2 weeks with ivermectin (160–250 ug/kg), except for children who weighed less than 15 kg and pregnant women, for whom 5% permethrin cream was used. Reintroduction of scabies was controlled by treating returning residents and visitors, whether or not they had evident scabies.

Findings

Prevalence of scabies dropped from 25% to less than 1% (P < 0.001); prevalence of sores from 40% to 21% (P < 0.001); streptococcal contamination of the fingers in those with and without sores decreased significantly (P = 0.02 and 0.047, respectively) and anti-DNase B levels decreased (P = 0.002). Both the proportion of children with haematuria and its mean level fell (P = 0.002 and P < 0.001, respectively). No adverse effects of the treatments were seen.

Conclusion

The results show that ivermectin is an effective and practical agent in the control of scabies and that control reduces the occurrence of streptococcal skin disease and possible signs of renal damage in children. Integrating community-based control of scabies and streptococcal skin disease with planned programmes for controlling filariasis and intestinal nematodes could be both practical and produce great health benefits.

Share