Antibiotic prophylaxis for leptospirosis

Tin Zar Win, Tanaraj Perinpanathan, Patrick Mukadi, Chris Smith, Tansy Edwards, Su Myat Han, Hsu Thinzar Maung, David M. Brett-Major, Nathaniel Lee

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Abstract

Background: Leptospirosis is a global zoonotic and waterborne disease caused by pathogenic Leptospira species. Antibiotics are used as a strategy for prevention of leptospirosis, in particular in travellers and high-risk groups. However, the clinical benefits are unknown, especially when considering possible treatment-associated adverse effects. This review assesses the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in leptospirosis and is an update of a previously published review in the Cochrane Library (2009, Issue 3). Objectives: To evaluate the benefits and harms of antibiotic prophylaxis for human leptospirosis. Search methods: We identified randomised clinical trials through electronic searches of the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS, Science Citation Index Expanded, and other resources. We searched online clinical trial registries to identify unpublished or ongoing trials. We checked reference lists of the retrieved studies for further trials. The last date of search was 17 April 2023. Selection criteria: We included ⁠⁠randomised clinical trials of any trial design, assessing antibiotics for prevention of leptospirosis, and with no restrictions on age, sex, occupation, or comorbidity of trial participants. We looked for trials assessing antibiotics irrespective of route of administration, dosage, and schedule versus placebo or no intervention. We also included trials assessing antibiotics versus other antibiotics using these criteria, or the same antibiotic but with another dose or schedule. Data collection and analysis: We followed Cochrane methodology. The primary outcomes were all-cause mortality, laboratory-confirmed leptospirosis regardless of the presence of an identified clinical syndrome (inclusive of asymptomatic cases), clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis regardless of the presence of laboratory confirmation, clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis confirmed by laboratory diagnosis (exclusive of asymptomatic cases), and serious adverse events. The secondary outcomes were quality of life and the proportion of people with non-serious adverse events. We assessed the risk of bias of the included trials using the RoB 2 tool and the certainty of evidence using GRADE. We presented dichotomous outcomes as risk ratios (RR) and continuous outcomes as mean difference (MD), with their 95% confidence intervals (CI). We used a random-effects model for our main analyses and the fixed-effect model for sensitivity analyses. Our primary outcome analyses included trial data at the longest follow-up. Main results: We identified five randomised clinical trials comprising 2593 participants that compared antibiotics (doxycycline, azithromycin, or penicillin) with placebo, or one antibiotic compared with another. Four trials assessed doxycycline with different durations, one trial assessed azithromycin, and one trial assessed penicillin. One trial had three intervention groups: doxycycline, azithromycin, and placebo. Three trials assessed pre-exposure prophylaxis, one trial assessed postexposure prophylaxis, and one did not report this clearly. Four trials recruited residents in endemic areas, and one trial recruited soldiers who experienced limited time exposure. The participants' ages in the included trials were 10 to 80 years. Follow-up ranged from one to three months. Antibiotics versus placebo. Doxycycline compared with placebo may result in little to no difference in all-cause mortality (RR 0.15, 95% CI 0.01 to 2.83; 1 trial, 782 participants; low-certainty evidence). Prophylactic antibiotics may have little to no effect on laboratory-confirmed leptospirosis, but the evidence is very uncertain (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.25 to 1.26; 5 trials, 2593 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Antibiotics may result in little to no difference in the clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis regardless of laboratory confirmation (RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.53 to 1.08; 4 trials, 1653 participants; low-certainty evidence) and the clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis with laboratory confirmation (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.26; 4 trials, 1653 participants; low-certainty evidence). Antibiotics compared with placebo may increase non-serious adverse events, but the evidence is very uncertain (RR 10.13, 95% CI 2.40 to 42.71; 3 trials, 1909 participants; very low-certainty evidence). One antibiotic versus another antibiotic. One trial assessed doxycycline versus azithromycin but did not report mortality. Compared to azithromycin, doxycycline may have little to no effect on laboratory-confirmed leptospirosis regardless of the presence of an identified clinical syndrome (RR 1.49, 95% CI 0.51 to 4.32; 1 trial, 137 participants), on the clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis regardless of the presence of laboratory confirmation (RR 4.18, 95% CI 0.94 to 18.66; 1 trial, 137 participants), on the clinical diagnosis of leptospirosis confirmed by laboratory diagnosis (RR 4.18, 95% CI 0.94 to 18.66; 1 trial, 137 participants), and on non-serious adverse events (RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.36 to 3.48; 1 trial, 137 participants), but the evidence is very uncertain. The certainty of evidence for all the outcomes was very low. None of the five included trials reported serious adverse events or assessed quality of life. One study is awaiting classification. Funding. Four of the five trials included statements disclosing their funding/supporting sources, and the remaining trial did not include this. Three of the four trials that disclosed their supporting sources received the supply of trial drugs directly from the same pharmaceutical company, and the remaining trial received financial support from a governmental source. Authors' conclusions: We do not know if antibiotics versus placebo or another antibiotic has little or have no effect on all-cause mortality or leptospirosis infection because the certainty of evidence is low or very low. We do not know if antibiotics versus placebo may increase the overall risk of non-serious adverse events because of very low-certainty evidence. We lack definitive rigorous data from randomised trials to support the use of antibiotics for the prophylaxis of leptospirosis infection. We lack trials reporting data on clinically relevant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberCD014959
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Volume2024
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 14 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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