Archive for the ‘Infectious Disease’ Category

Flu Facts: Antiviral Medications

Though it’s not possible to predict the severity of the flu season, it’s a guarantee that it’ll be here before long. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.

thermometer-833085_1280In order to protect yourself, it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. This ensures that as many people as possible are protected. In addition to the vaccine, everyday preventative steps, such as avoiding sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs can help you stay healthy.

If you’ve taken those precautions and an influenza testing kit confirms you’ve still come down with the flu, antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir), zanamivir and peramivir can be used to treat flu illness. Studies show that prompt treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu complications and can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness. Antiviral drugs are effective across all age-and risk groups.

Flu Season Is On The Way

Ready or not, the annual flu season, which generally runs from October through May, is on its way. That also means it’s time for your annul flu vaccine.

vaccine-789890_1280No doubt you recall last year’s vaccine dilemma. So, will this year’s version be more effective? Experts are optimistic.

Three kinds of viruses commonly circulate among people today, according to the Centers for Disease Control: two types of influenza A, H1N1 and H3N2, and influenza B viruses. The CDC said all of the 2015-16 vaccines will protect against those three viruses, and so far, health officials say, they appear to be on target.

Experts say the strength of the vaccine all comes down to how well manufacturers – which work months in advance to produce the vaccine – predict the strains of flu virus that will hit us. Flu vaccine predictions start early every year based on what kind of flu strains are hitting people in the Southern Hemisphere during their flu season, which is the opposite of ours. Manufacturers then try to determine if the same flu strains will make their way to us in the Northern Hemisphere.

Whether or not this year’s vaccine is a perfect match is yet to be determined, but public health official’s advice people to get their annual flu shot, especially those most vulnerable to flu, including children under the age of 5 and adults 65 and older. Once flu season is in full swing, if you feel you are coming down with symptoms, see your doctor right away. They can administer an influenza test by using influenza rapid test kit to determine if antiviral medication, like Tamiflu, can help you.

Flu Shot Less Effective This Season

As you‘ve probably heard, the flu shot is drastically less effective this year because the current strain of the virus has mutated. During an average winter when the flu vaccine has been considerably more effective than this year’s vaccination, the number of reported hospitalizations and deaths is still common. So, imagine the concern when doctors and medical professionals are faced with knowing that the vaccination administered to ward off the flu is ineffective.

In February 2014, a panel of experts decided on 3 strains of the virus to include in this year’s vaccine, based on data about the common strains circulating around the globe throughout the year. Some years the vaccine is a better match to the circulating strains than others.

The most common strain of the virus reported so far this season is influenza A (H3N2). In the past, this strain has been linked to higher rates of hospitalization and death, especially for those at high risk for complications, which is usually the very young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart problems.

While this year’s version is not as protective against a mutated strain, it can still decrease the severity of illness caused by the virus. The most effective way to prevent the disease and/or severe outcomes from the illness is vaccination – even in its diminished capacity. For a complete list of Influenza Testing Kits, visit our site.