Clinicians told to use antivirals as flu levels soar

Prescribers should start using antiviral drugs to combat flu in at-risk patients in the worst-hit areas after a surge in the disease early in the new year, a DoH expert has warned.

Influenza virus
Influenza virus

A total of 31 people per 100,000 in England visited their GP with flu or flu-like symptoms in the first week of 2008, compared to 21 in the last week of 2007, DoH data show. The sharp increase means a threshold has been passed at which NICE guidance for use of antivirals takes effect.

The warning came in a letter to NHS staff from DoH director of immunisation Professor David Salisbury.

The letter says the ‘overall rate of influenza reports has exceeded the threshold at which the NICE guidelines on the use of antiviral drugs are triggered’.

‘The use of antiviral drugs for the prevention or treatment of influenza is now recommended,’ the letter adds.

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