Antiviral drugs reduce risk of flu deaths: DAK

Srinagar, Nov 17: With surge in number of flu cases in Kashmir valley, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday urged doctors to prescribe antiviral drugs for flu patients.
“Antiviral medication reduces risk of flu deaths,” said influenza expert and DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
Quoting a large study, he said early treatment with antiviral medication reduces the risk of flu death by 60 percent.
Dr Hassan 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.
“Flu antivirals work best for treatment when they are started within two days of onset of illness,” he said.
“However, starting them later can still be helpful,” he added.
The DAK President 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.
Antivirals can also be considered on the basis of clinical judgment for those who do not have risk for severe illness.
Currently, oseltamivir is the most effective antiviral drug for all circulating flu viruses which includes H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B viruses,” he said, adding “the drug can be safely given to pregnant women and infants aged 2 weeks and older.”
Dr Nisar said 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,” he said.

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