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Posts Tagged ‘Tamiflu CDC recommendations’

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The CBS Evening News (1/30, lead story) reported on Friday that “the CDC said that the flu season in much of the country appears to have peaked.” However, “the flu is now widespread in all but six states and it’s sending Americans 65 and older to the hospital at the highest rate in at least a decade.”

NBC Nightly News (1/31, story 3, 0:25, Williams) reported that the high number of hospitalizations is “being blamed on this particularly nasty strain of flu this year and a vaccine that, sadly, has proven only about 23 percent effective.”

Bloomberg News (1/31, Cortez) reported, “The annual outbreak, already in its 10th week, has extended beyond the lower bound of a normal flu season and isn’t showing signs of easing, said Lyn Finelli, chief of surveillance and outbreak response at the” CDC. In a telephone interview, she explained, “‘While the flu may have peaked in many areas of the country, there is a surge in other areas,’ including New England, the Northeast and the West Coast.”

 

Blogfinger Medical Commentary:  Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

The influenza pandemic 1918-1919 killed 20-40 million people worldwide.  This gives you an idea of the potential virulence of this viral illness.  During the last ten years, the CDC has been recording hospitalization rates for citizens over age 65 in the US.  The elderly are the most vulnerable group to having serious consequences after catching the “flu.”  This season, which began in the fall, is the worst in ten years.  The A(H3N2) strain is dangerous, and “genetic drift” has made it resistant to the current vaccine.   There is no cure for this illness.

The epidemic has peaked now, and although hospitalizations are still very high, outpatient visits are falling off.   Hopefully we will see a marked drop in a few weeks.  Meanwhile, if you have early symptoms  (cough, fever and sore throat,) call your doctor to see if you are eligible for an anti-viral drug such as Tamiflu  (oseltamivir). This drug should shorten the length of the illness by a day or two and may reduce serious complications. There is some controversy about the use of Tamiflu  (or the two others on the market), but the CDC has advised doctors to use the drug as needed.  I remember one recent flu season where the drug was sold out because individuals were stocking up on it, and even this season there have been spotty shortages.

 

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