The Flu: Good News, Bad News

The good news about this flu season is that so far, both nationally and in California, it has been a mild one, with a relatively small number of people infected.  The weekly trends are still increasing, so the worst is still ahead of us.

The bad news is that one of the major strains of the flu virus this season is resistant to Tamiflu, the most frequently prescribed and safest anti-flu medicine.  In response, the CDC has issued an Interim Antiviral Guidance statement, which recommends which antivirals should be used this season.  The recommendations are impractically complex, and depend on the availability of rapid testing to identify the strain infecting each patient.

The most practical solution for this flu season is to use Relenza, an inhaled anti-flu medicine that is as effective as Tamiflu and to which this year’s strains are all sensitive.  Relenza should be avoided, however, in patients with asthma or emphysema.  Like Tamiflu, Relenza should be started within the first 48 hours of symptoms.  So if you get a high fever, diffuse aches, and a cough, call your doctor right away.

But the good news is that it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

Learn more:

Track the influenza season in California:  California Influenza Surveillance Project

Tack the influenza season nationally so you can warn Aunt Martha in the Midwest:  Centers for Disease Control Flu Activity and Surveillance

Follow the epidemic on Google which detects flu activity about two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance:  Google Flu Trends

LA Times article:  Tamiflu no longer works for dominant flu strain

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