The H1N1 flu is hitting many of our communities before the vaccine is widely available. It is projected that H1N1 may infect a greater proportion of our population than is typically experienced with seasonal influenza. As a result, we may see greater numbers of hospitalizations and deaths this flu season, particularly in the younger age groups and in patients with underlying high-risk conditions.
Here are five things you may want to consider:
- Consider early antiviral treatment for patients in high-risk groups or patients with severe illness. Remind families to call or seek urgent care if symptoms worsen.
- Treatment should not wait for laboratory confirmation of influenza. Waiting for laboratory test results can delay treatment. Plus, a negative rapid test for influenza does not rule out influenza. There is little need to do influenza virus PCR testing for patients who do not require hospitalization. Hospitalized patients may be candidates for PCR testing to confirm a diagnosis and aid infection control decisions.
- As an alternative to chemoprophylaxis, "watchful waiting" with immediate antiviral treatment at the first sign is a potential strategy for patients with high-risk conditions - especially if they have been exposed to the flu. Such patients could be given an antiviral prescription to fill at the first sign of flu-like illness.
- Immunization remains the cornerstone of control and prevention of both novel H1N1 and seasonal influenza. Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for persons aged 2 years to 64 years with high-risk conditions and all who are 65 years and older. This is an important preventive measure for secondary bacterial infections.
- Educate your patients who are at higher risk for complications from influenza of the symptoms and the need to seek early treatment. Also, educate all your patients diagnosed with influenza of symptoms that should prompt them to seek immediate medical evaluation, particularly difficulty breathing or a return of worsening symptoms.
TMA Influenza Resources
Last Updated On
October 06, 2010