Letter: Treating H1N1 includes antiviralsWe agree with Dr. Harris in his advice to “not panic over swine influenza” (R-E, April 30), but we would like to clarify the use of medicines known as “antivirals.”
By: Jack Alexander & Karen Main, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
We agree with Dr. Harris in his advice to “not panic over swine influenza” (R-E, April 30), but we would like to clarify the use of medicines known as “antivirals.”
Antiviral medications can and should be used to prevent serious influenza complications. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that can be used to treat H1N1 influenza viruses.
There are influenza antiviral drugs that work only against influenza type viruses — they will not treat or prevent symptoms caused by an infection from another virus.
Antiviral medications can make an illness milder and make a person feel better. It is best to start antivirals soon after onset of illness - preferably within two days, but the Centers for Disease Control indicates that even after two days, antivirals should still be considered, particularly for hospitalized patients and for those at risk for complications from influenza.
Also, antiviral medications can be used to prevent influenza when they are given to a person who is not ill, but who has been or may be near a person with H1N1 influenza. When used to prevent the flu, antiviral drugs are about 70 to 90 percent effective.
The CDC recommends that medical providers should consider treating any person with confirmed or suspected H1N1 influenza with an antiviral drug.
Of course, preventing the spread of any infectious disease is best. We concur wholeheartedly to wash hands, cover your mouth when coughing, avoid touching your eyes, and stay home from school and work when you are sick.
Dr. Jack Alexander is medical director of the Goodhue County Public Health Service.
Karen Main is director of the Goodhue County Public Health Service.