Ivermectin treatment in humans for reducing malaria transmission

29 Jun 2021

Malaria control using ivermectin

What is the aim of this review?

The aim of this Cochrane Review was to find out if giving the drug ivermectin to entire communities could reduce malaria transmission. We examined all relevant studies to answer this question, and found one relevant study.

Key messages

It is not possible to say at this point if treating an entire community with ivermectin reduces malaria. Several research studies are in progress; we anticipate they will provide more answers in the future.

What was studied in the review?

Malaria is a disease transmitted to humans through the bite of mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium parasites. It results in nearly half a million deaths every year. Ivermectin is a drug that is given to whole communities to control the parasites that are responsible for elephantiasis and river blindness. It has been observed that ivermectin can kill mosquitoes when they feed on the blood of people who have taken this medication. Therefore, it is believed that by giving this drug to whole communities, it will kill many mosquitoes, and could reduce malaria transmission.

In this review, we assessed whether treating entire communities with ivermectin would reduce malaria transmission. We looked for studies from different sources, and only included studies that took place in communities with malaria, and that randomly assigned groups of people to ivermectin or a control, which could be a placebo or standard community drug treatments. We wanted to know if the treatment influenced the occurrence of malaria in the community.

What are the main results of the review?

One study met the inclusion criteria. This study included eight villages in Burkina Faso, which were randomly assigned to receive ivermectin or a control. All villages received ivermectin, as part of the scheduled control of lymphatic filariasis. In addition, the treatment villages received five more doses of ivermectin, once every three weeks. The effect of ivermectin on malaria was measured in children younger than five years of age. In these children, the treatment did not show a notable difference in the presence of malaria between the treatment and control groups (very low‐certainty evidence).

Therefore, it is not possible to say at this point if the treatment of entire communities with ivermectin has an effect on reducing malaria. Several studies are currently ongoing; we anticipate they will provide more answers in the future.

How up‐to‐date is this review?

We searched for studies published up to 14 January 2021.