WHO recommends early treatment with antivirals to prevent severe A/H1N1 symptoms
Early treatment with antiviral medicines can help prevent severe symptoms and deaths caused by the A/H1N1 pandemic virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, Xinhua reported
"Now we can more confidently say that early antiviral use makes changes in terms of preventing severe illness and death," said Dr. Nikki Shindo, a WHO flu expert.
Shindo said in countries like Ukraine, Afghanistan and Mongolia, hospitals and clinics were already overwhelmed with flu patients.
"One way to save lives and to lighten the burden of health care system is to prevent severe disease," she said.
The expert stressed that people from high risk groups need to be treated with antivirals as soon as possible when they have flu symptoms. This group includes pregnant women, children under two years of age and people with underlying conditions such as respiratory problems.
People who are not from a risk group, but who have consistent or rapidly worsening symptoms should also be treated with antivirals. These symptoms include difficulty in breathing and high fever that lasts beyond three days.
People who have already developed pneumonia should be given both antivirals and antibiotics, the expert said.
"We have seen that in many severe cases of H1N1 caused illness, bacteria infections develop. These medicines, antivirals and antibiotics, if given in a timely manner, can help save lives," she said.