Background: Q fever endocarditis, caused by Coxiella burnetii, is fatal in 25% to 60% of patients. Currently, treatment with a long-term tetracycline and quinolone regimen for at least 4 years is recommended, although relapses are frequent.
Methods: Between January 1987 and December 1997, the reference treatment of Q fever endocarditis was compared with one of doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Patients were treated by conventional therapy until May 1991 and then by the new regimen. Microimmunofluorescence was used for antibody-level determination for diagnosis and follow-up.
Results: Thirty-five patients were included in the study, 26 males and 9 females. Of 14 patients treated with a doxycycline and quinolone combination, 1 died, 7 relapsed (3 were re-treated and 4 switched to the new regimen), 1 is still being treated, and 5 were considered cured using this regimen only. The mean duration of therapy for cure in this group was 55 months (median, 60 months). Twenty-one patients received the doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine regimen: 1 patient died of a surgical complication, 2 are still being treated, 17 were cured, and 1 is currently being evaluated. Two patients treated for 12 months but none of the patients treated for longer than 18 months relapsed. The mean duration of treatment in this group was 31 months (median, 26 months). No significant differences were observed between the 2 regimens in terms of death, valve surgery, or tolerance. The mortality rate for both regimens in this study was 5%.
Conclusion: Prescription of the doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine combination for at least 18 months allows shortening of the duration of therapy and reduction in the number of relapses.