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Giardiasis is one of the most common human protozoal infections worldwide. First-line therapy of giardiasis includes nitroimidazole antibiotics. However, treatment failure with nitroimidazoles is increasingly reported, with up to 45% of patients not responding to initial treatment. There is no clear consensus on the approach to the management of nitroimidazole-refractory giardiasis. This systematic review aims to summarize the literature on pharmacotherapy for nitroimidazole-refractory giardiasis. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to determine the optimal management strategies for nitroimidazole-refractory giardiasis. We searched Pubmed/MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane library using the following search terms 'Giardia' AND 'treatment failure' OR 'refractory giardia' OR 'resistant giardia' with date limits of 1 January 1970 to 30 June 2021. We included all reports on humans, which described clinical outcomes of individuals with treatment refractory giardiasis, including case series and case reports. A descriptive synthesis of the data was conducted with pooling of data for interventions. Included in this review were five prospective studies, three retrospective studies, seven case series and nine case reports. Across these reports, a wide heterogeneity of treatment regimens was employed, including retreatment with an alternative nitroimidazole, combination therapy with a nitroimidazole and another agent and monotherapy with non-nitroimidazole regimens, including quinacrine, paromomycin and nitazoxanide. Retreatment with a nitroimidazole was not an effective therapy for refractory giardiasis. However, treatment with a nitroimidazole in combination with albendazole had a cure rate of 66.9%. In the included studies, quinacrine monotherapy was administered to a total of 179 patients, with a clinical cure rate of 88.8%. Overall, quinacrine was fairly well tolerated. Reports on the treatment of nitroimidazole-refractory giardiasis demonstrate a heterogeneous approach to treatment. Of these, quinacrine appeared to be highly effective, though more data on its safety are needed. © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Society of Travel Medicine. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Daniel L Bourque, Andreas Neumayr, Michael Libman, Lin H Chen. Treatment strategies for nitroimidazole-refractory giardiasis: a systematic review. Journal of travel medicine. 2022 Jan 17;29(1)

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PMID: 34350966

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