Objective. To investigate the effects of 3-week versus 4-week administration of benzathine penicillin G (BPG) on the incidence of Group A streptococcal infections and the recurrences of rheumatic fever (RF).
Study Design. We started, in 1979, randomly allocating all patients with RF to a 3-week or 4-week BPG prophylaxis program. They were examined at the RF clinic, every 3 to 6 months, and at any time they did not feel well. During 1979 to 1989, throat cultures and sera for antistreptolysin O and streptozyme titers were obtained at each clinic visit. Chest radiographs, electrocardiogram, color Doppler echocardiograms, and acute phase reactants were obtained.
Subjects. Two hundred forty-nine patients fulfilled the revised Jones criteria and were followed until December 1991: 124 in the 3-week and 125 in the 4-week program. Their age, sex, weight, percentage with history of RF, severity of cardiac involvement, follow-up duration, and compliance to program were comparable. Eight hundred eighty throat cultures were collected in the 3-week program and 770 were collected in the 4-week program. Six hundred sixteen and 627 sera were determined in each program for antistreptolysin O, and 582 and 592 sera for streptozyme titers.
Results. True streptococcal infections occurred in both programs: 39 infections in the 3-week program, and 59 infections in the 4-week program (7.5 vs 12.7 per 100 patient-years). Four infections with no antibody response occurred in the 3-week program, and three such infections in the 4-week program. Nine RF recurrences occurred in 8 patients in the 3-week program, and 16 recurrences in 16 patients in the 4-week program. Prophylaxis failure occurred in 2 of 124 patients in the 3-week program, and in 10 of 125 patients in the 4-week program (0.25 vs 1.29 per 100 patient-years). The overall recurrences/infections rate in each program was comparable, 13.6% vs 15.5%, but the recurrences/infections rate due to prophylaxis failure was higher in the 4-week program than in the 3-week program, 3.0% versus 9.7%.
Conclusions. This 12-year prospective and controlled study documented that streptococcal infections and RF recurrences occurred more often in the 4-week program than in the 3-week program. The risk of prophylaxis failure was fivefold greater in the 4-week program than in the 3-week program.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics