Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of azithromycin compared with rifampin for eradication of nasopharyngeal carriage of Neisseria meningitidis
Methods: Pharyngeal swabs were obtained from 500 students attending nursing school in Cairo, Egypt, to determine the colonization rate with N. meningitidis. Colonized individuals were randomized to receive azithromycin (500 mg once) or rifampin (600 mg twice daily for four doses). Subjects were then recultured 1 and 2 weeks posttreatment to determine the effectiveness of the antibiotic therapy for eradication of meningococcal nasopharyngeal colonization.
Results: Individuals treated with azithromycin had a 93% eradication rate at 1 and 2 weeks posttreatment comparable with 95 and 91%, respectively, for rifampin. No significant side effects were reported by any subjects treated with either antibiotic.
Conclusion: Azithromycin is effective in the eradication of N. meningitidis from the nasopharynx of asymptomatic colonized individuals and deserves further evaluation for use as prophylaxis against N. meningitidis.