DAK advocates early flu vaccination

Srinagar Feb 26 (KNO): Amid flu cases, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday stressed for early use of antiviral drugs in patients with flu illness.

“Timely use of antiviral drugs prevents deaths,” said DAK President and flu expert Dr. Nisar-ul-Hassan in a statement issued to wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

Quoting a study, he said “treatment with anti-virals within 2 days of onset of symptoms reduces the risk of death in flu patients by 60 per cent,” adding “clinical and observational data show that antiviral treatment shortens the duration of illness and makes flu milder.”

Dr Nisar said clinicians should prescribe antiviral medication to flu patients as early as possible and should not wait for the lab test results as delay could be fatal.

He said flu antivirals work best for treatment when they are started within 48 hours of onset of illness. However, starting them later can still be helpful.

Dr Nisar said antiviral treatment is recommended for any patient with confirmed or suspected flu who is hospitalized or has severe progressive illness or is at higher risk of developing flu-related complications. People at high risk of complications include children, elderly, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions.

“Antiviral can also be considered on the basis of clinical judgment for those who do not have risk for severe illness,” he added. “Currently, oseltamivir is the most effective antiviral drug for all circulating flu viruses which includes swine flu and this year’s dominant influenza B virus,” Dr Nisar said, adding “the drug can be safely given to pregnant women and infants aged 2 weeks and older.”

“Despite antiviral flu medications save lives, they are unfortunately under prescribed. Clinicians commonly prescribe antibiotics to patients with flu which is not only inappropriate but also puts patients at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Antibiotics do not have activity against viruses and clinicians must know that antivirals work and work efficiently against flu,” said Dr Nisar.