Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared chemoprophylaxis of contacts of patients with leprosy against no intervention, placebo or other chemoprophylaxis schemes were eligible for inclusion; studies where the intervention group included vaccines were excluded. The main outcome was diagnosis of leprosy (secondary cases) in contacts of patients with the disease (primary cases).
All of the included studies were conducted in highly endemic populations in Asia (mostly India) and included both adults and children. Treatments, at varying doses and durations, included acedapsone, dapsone, rifampicin, ofloxacine and minocycline; the comparator for all studies was placebo. Most studies applied clinical criteria for leprosy diagnosis; positive bacilloscopy in slit skin smears was also used. Most RCTs included close contacts of leprosy patients or both household and community contacts. The type of disease in the primary case (paucibacillary and multibacillary leprosy) was reported in less than a third of studies.
Two independent reviewers selected studies for inclusion in the review; disagreements were resolved by referral to a third author.