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This article is part of the supplement: The Lives Saved Tool in 2013: new capabilities and applications

Open Access Review

Antibiotics for the treatment of Cholera, Shigella and Cryptosporidium in children

Jai K Das1, Anum Ali1, Rehana A Salam1 and Zulfiqar A Bhutta12*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Women & Child Health, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

2 Global Child Health and Policy, Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13(Suppl 3):S10  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S10

Published: 17 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Diarrhea is a major contributor to the burden of morbidity and mortality in children; it accounts for a median of 11% of all deaths among children aged less than 5 years, amounting to approximately 0.8 million deaths per year. Currently there is a dearth of literature exploring the effectiveness of antibiotics for diarrhea due to Cholera, Shigella and cryptosporidiosis in children.

Methods

We reviewed the literature reporting the effect of antibiotics for the treatment of diarrhea due to Cholera, Shigella and Cryptosporidium in children under five years. We used a standardized abstraction and grading format and performed meta-analyses to determine the effect of the treatment with various antibiotics on mortality and rates of clinical and bacteriological/parasitological failure. The CHERG Standard Rules were applied to determine the final effect of treatment with antibiotics on diarrhea morbidity and mortality.

Results

For Cholera; the evidence was weak to recommend any effect on mortality. For Shigella; there was no data on mortality; either all-cause or cause specific, hence we used clinical failure rates as a proxy for Shigella deaths and propose that treatment of Shigella dysentery with antibiotics can result in a 82% reduction in diarrhea mortality due to Shigella. For cryptosporidiosis; there was data on all-cause mortality but the evidence was weak hence we used clinical failure rates as a proxy for mortality to estimate that antimicrobial treatment of diarrhea due to cryptosporidiosis can result in a 54% reduction in mortality.

Conclusions

There is evidence to recommend antibiotic use for reduction of morbidity and mortality due to Cholera, Shigella and Cryptosporidium. We recommend that more clinical trials should be conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of first- and second- line drugs currently in use for treatment for diarrhea and dysentery in both developing and developed countries.