The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its recommendations for the use of antiviral agents for the treatment of influenza.
No one knows better than practicing family physicians (FPs) that flu activity is spiking in many parts of the country, but what FPs may not know is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations for the use of antiviral agents for the treatment and chemoprophylaxis of influenza, according to a news release issued by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) last week. The agency also has issued new recommendations regarding the use of these medications specifically in pregnant and postpartum women.
The CDC reported Feb. 11 that 37 states had widespread influenza activity during the week ending Feb. 5, and nine states had regional influenza activity. Visits to physicians for influenza-like illness also increased, with nine of 10 regions reporting activity at or above baseline levels.
The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at the epidemic threshold for that week, according to the CDC, and 11 flu-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
The AAFP has resources to help educate patients about flu prevention. FamilyDoctor.org’s influenza Web page covers numerous topics, including which groups are at high risk for flu complications, vaccination information and the use of antiviral medications.
The CDC published the antiviral recommendations of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in the Jan. 21 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Six principal changes or updates from the agency's previous recommendations are featured:
Furthermore, data from the 2009-10 flu season indicate that pregnant women with confirmed or suspected flu who were treated early with antiviral medications were less likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit and less likely to die. Therefore, said CDC officials, pregnant women with suspected or confirmed influenza should receive antiviral therapy as early in the course of disease as possible.
The agency also made the following recommendations regarding pregnant and postpartum women: