The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has just published an updated, detailed document regarding the use of antiviral medications for influenza. Click here for a PDF version to read or download.
ACIP is an advisory committee within the CDC. The ACIP influenza work group meets monthly throughout the year to consider newly published research studies and to update recommendations regarding influenza vaccine and antiviral medications for the treatment of flu.
Click here for a brief outilne of CDC recommendations for the 2010-2011 season.
Summary: The only antiviral medications recommended for use this year are the neuraminidase inhibitors Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza). Due to changes in the circulating flu subtypes, as well as changes in resistance patterns, the adamantanes (Amantadine, Rimantadine) are not recommended this year and probably will play no role in the treatment of inpatients or outpatients.
The CDC recommends treatment with antivirals effective against influenza if a patient has an acute onset of an influenza like illness at a time when influenza is known to be circulating in the community AND has a high risk medical condition or is ill enough to be hospitalized. Treatment is optional if the patient will be managed at home and does not have a high risk medical condition, especially if flu is in low levels of circulation in the community. Most healthy people with typical flu symptoms do not require antiviral medications. Studies have shown that antiviral medications can reduce the symptoms due to flu by 0.5-1.5 days in both chidlren and adults if started less than 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Antiviral medications are unlikely to provide significant benefit to outpatients who have been symptomatic for more than 48 hours, but for very ill inpatients several recent studies have shown some benefit even if the medications are started well past the 48 hour “window”.
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