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Biannual Treatment of Preschool Children with Single Dose Azithromycin to Reduce Mortality: Impact on Azithromycin Resistance in the MORDOR Trial in Tanzania


The Macrolides Oraux pour Réduire les Décès avec un Oeil sur la Résistance study showed that administration of biannual, single-dose azithromycin to preschool children reduces mortality. We sought to evaluate its impact on azithromycin resistance. Thirty randomly selected communities in Kilosa district, Tanzania, were randomized to receive 6-monthly single-dose azithromycin (∼20 mg/kg) versus placebo treatment of children aged 1-59 months. From each community, 40 children (aged 1-59 months) were randomly selected at baseline, 12 and 24 months. Isolation and resistance testing of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Escherichia coli were evaluated using nasopharyngeal and rectal swabs, respectively. The carriage prevalence and the proportion of azithromycin-resistant isolates were determined using disk diffusion. At baseline, the characteristics of the randomly selected children were similar by treatment arms. Both at baseline and in annual cross-sectional surveys, rates of S. pneumoniae and E. coli isolation between treatment arms were similar. The proportions of azithromycin-resistant S. pneumoniae isolates in the children in communities treated with azithromycin versus placebo at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months were 26.5% (18.1%; P = 0.26), 26.8% (16.5%; P = 0.29), and 13.4% (17.0%; P = 0.57), respectively. The proportions of azithromycin-resistant E. coli isolates at baseline, 12 months, and 24 months in the azithromycin (versus placebo) arms were 14.9% (18.9%; P = 0.16), 21.5% (16.6%; P = 0.10), and 14.9% (14.7%; P = 0.95), respectively. Over the 24 months, the mean treatment coverage for the azithromycin and placebo was 76.9% and 74.8%, respectively (P = 0.49). Biannual administration of single-dose azithromycin to children did not appear to result in excess azithromycin resistance in S. pneumoniae and E. coli isolates over 24 months of follow-up.

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