Background Vibrio cholerae is a highly motile Gram-negative bacterium which is responsible for 3 million cases of diarrhoeal illness and up to 100,000 deaths per year, with an increasing burden documented over the past decade. Current WHO guidelines for the treatment of paediatric cholera infection (tetracycline 12.5 mg/kg four times daily for 3 days) are based on data which are over a decade old. In an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance, updated review of the appropriate empirical therapy for cholera infection in children (taking account of susceptibility patterns, cost and the risk of adverse events) is necessary. Methods A systematic review of the current published literature on the treatment of cholera infection in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) was undertaken. International clinical guidelines and studies pertaining to adverse effects associated with treatments available for cholera infection were also reviewed. Results The initial search produced 256 results, of which eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Quality assessment of the studies was performed as per the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation guidelines. Conclusions In view of the changing non-susceptibility rates worldwide, empirical therapy for cholera infection in paediatric patients should be changed to single-dose azithromycin (20 mg/kg), a safe and effective medication with ease of administration. Erythromycin (12.5 mg/kg four times daily for 3 days) exhibits similar bacteriological and clinical success and should be listed as a second-line therapy. Fluid resuscitation remains the cornerstone of management of paediatric cholera infection, and prevention of infection by promoting access to clean water and sanitation is paramount.
Williams, P.C.M., Berkley, J.A.