According to recent updates by the Centers for Disease Control, during week 8 (February 17 - 23, 2008), influenza activity decreased slightly in the United States. However, deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza are above the epidemic threshold for the seventh consecutive week.
The CDC recently issued the following alert advising doctors and the public at large of the importance of using antiviral drugs for the treatment or prevention of flu:
This is an official
CDC HEALTH ADVISORY
"Recent surveillance data indicate that many communities are reporting substantially increased influenza activity. This CDC Health Advisory is intended to re-emphasize the importance of considering antiviral medications for use in the treatment or prevention of influenza. The two prescription antiviral medications recommended for treatment or prevention of influenza include oseltamivir (Tamiflu®, Roche Laboratories, Nutley, NJ) or zanamivir (Relenza®, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC). These antiviral medications are also known as neuraminidase inhibitors. Recent studies suggest a considerable protective effect against complications associated with influenza when neuraminidase inhibitors are used for treatment. These benefits include reducing the risk of death among older adults hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza. Because high levels of resistance to adamantane antiviral medications (rimantadine and amantadine) continue to be observed among circulating influenza A viruses, adamantanes are not recommended for treatment or prevention of influenza."
The alert goes on to say that although some strains of the flu and showing slight resistance to the antiviral medications, it is still important to consider taking the medications. Because this year's flu strains are different than those contained in flu vaccines, it is particularly important to use antiviral medications to help battle the epidemic.
To reduce the substantial burden of influenza in the U.S., the CDC continues to recommend a three-pronged approach: