Antimicrobial Resistance Risks of Cholera Prophylaxis for United Nations Peacekeepers

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2017 Jul 25;61(8):e00026-17. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00026-17. Print 2017 Aug.


More than 5 years after a United Nations peacekeeping battalion introduced cholera to Haiti, over 150,000 peacekeepers continue to be deployed annually from countries where cholera is endemic. The United Nations has thus far declined to provide antimicrobial chemoprophylaxis to peacekeepers, a policy based largely on concerns that the risks of drug resistance generation and spread would outweigh the potential benefits of preventing future cholera importations. In this study, we sought to better understand the relative benefits and risks of cholera chemoprophylaxis for peacekeepers in terms of antibiotic resistance. Using a stochastic model to quantify the potential impact of chemoprophylaxis on importation and transmission of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive Vibrio cholerae, we found that chemoprophylaxis would decrease the probability of cholera importation but would increase the expected number of drug-resistant infections if an importation event were to occur. Despite this potential increase, we found that at least 10 drug-sensitive infections would likely be averted per excess drug-resistant infection under a wide range of assumptions about the underlying prevalence of drug resistance and risk of acquired resistance. Given these findings, policymakers should reconsider whether the potential resistance risks of providing antimicrobial chemoprophylaxis to peacekeepers are sufficient to outweigh the anticipated benefits.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; cholera; competition; mathematical model; prophylaxis; transmission dynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Cholera / epidemiology
  • Cholera / prevention & control*
  • Cholera / transmission
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Risk
  • United Nations
  • Vibrio cholerae / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents