The New England Journal of Medicine, 2015, Vol.373(24), pp.2305-2313
Background Scabies is an underrecognized cause of illness in many developing countries. It is associated with impetigo, which can lead to serious systemic complications. We conducted a trial of mass drug administration for scabies control in Fiji. Methods We randomly assigned three island communities to one of three different interventions for scabies control: standard care involving the administration of permethrin to affected persons and their contacts (standard-care group), mass administration of permethrin (permethrin group), or mass administration of ivermectin (ivermectin group). The primary outcome was the change in the prevalence of scabies and of impetigo from baseline to 12 months. Results A total of 2051 participants were enrolled; 803 were in the standard-care group, 532 in the permethrin group, and 716 in the ivermectin group. From baseline to 12 months, the prevalence of scabies declined significantly in all groups, with the greatest reduction seen in the ivermectin group. The prevalence declined from 36.6% to 18.8% in the standard-care group (relative reduction in prevalence, 49%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 37 to 60), from 41.7% to 15.8% in the permethrin group (relative reduction, 62%; 95% CI, 49 to 75), and from 32.1% to 1.9% in the ivermectin group (relative reduction, 94%; 95% CI, 83 to 100). The prevalence of impetigo also declined in all groups, with the greatest reduction seen in the ivermectin group. The prevalence declined from 21.4% to 14.6% in the standard-care group (relative reduction, 32%; 95% CI, 14 to 50), from 24.6% to 11.4% in the permethrin group (relative reduction, 54%; 95% CI, 35 to 73), and from 24.6% to 8.0% in the ivermectin group (relative reduction, 67%; 95% CI, 52 to 83). Adverse events were mild and were reported more frequently in the ivermectin group than in the permethrin group (15.6% vs. 6.8%). Conclusions Mass drug administration, particularly the administration of ivermectin, was efficacious for the control of scabies and impetigo. (Funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12613000474752 .) This trial of strategies for scabies control in Fiji compared administration of permethrin to affected persons and their contacts with mass administration of either permethrin or ivermectin. The prevalence of scabies declined in all groups, with the greatest decline in the ivermectin group. Scabies, a skin condition that is recognized by the World Health Organization as a disease of public health importance, 1 is a substantial contributor to global morbidity and mortality. Scabies is caused by a microscopic mite ( Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis ) and is transmitted primarily through person-to-person contact. Infestation can result in debilitating itchiness, with associated sleep disturbance, reduced ability to concentrate, 2 social stigmatization, 3 and ongoing health care expenses. 4 , 5 In many developing countries, scabies-related scratching is an important cause of impetigo, 6 – 10 which is most often due to Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus infection and can lead to septicemia, . . .