Antivirals 'little or no effect' on flu complications in children

Aug 10, 2009
Antivirals 'little or no effect' on flu complications in children
The study shows that antivirals shorten the duration of flu in children by up to a day and a half but that they have little or no effect on some complications.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) are unlikely to prevent complications in children who have swine flu, according to research published by the BMJ today.

While the study shows that antivirals shorten the duration of flu in children by up to a day and a half, it also shows that they have little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, increased or the likelihood of children needing antibiotics. The antiviral is also linked to an increased risk of vomiting.

The authors, led by Dr Matthew Thompson from the University of Oxford, add that the study reveals the effectiveness of using antivirals to contain the spread of flu. They conclude that 13 people need to be treated to prevent one additional case; therefore antivirals reduce transmission by 8 per cent.

During seasonal flu epidemics children are at high risk, with over 4 in 10 (40 per cent) preschool children getting the virus and 3 in 10 (30 per cent) school age children doing so. School age children are also the main source of spread of flu into households, say the authors.

The main strategy to control flu is vaccination but coverage can be low and often there is not enough time to produce and distribute vaccines in response to emerging strains. Therefore current control strategies include using antiviral medications to prevent the virus spreading as well as treating infected individuals.

Thompson and his colleagues say the last review of this strategy was carried out in 2005 and a more up to date assessment of the benefits and harms of this treatment is now required.

So they carried out a review of four trials on the treatment of flu in 1,766 children (1,243 with confirmed flu, 55 to 69 per cent with type A, the same strain as ) and three trials involving the use of antiviral to limit the spread of flu.

The authors conclude that it is difficult to know the extent to which their findings can be generalised to in the current swine pandemic but, based on current evidence, the effects of on reducing the course of illness or preventing complications might be limited.

‘While morbidity and mortality in the current pandemic remain low, a more conservative strategy might be considered prudent, given the limited data, side effects such as vomiting, and the potential for developing resistant strains of influenza,’ they say.

Provided by Oxford University (news : web)

Explore further: Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flu drug advised for pregnant women with swine flu

May 12, 2009

(AP) -- Pregnant women should take prescription flu medicines if they are diagnosed with the new swine flu, health officials said Tuesday. So far, the swine flu has not proven to be much more dangerous than seasonal influenza, ...

Outwitting mutating flu during a pandemic

May 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a global influenza pandemic, small stockpiles of a secondary flu medication - if used early in local outbreaks - could extend the effectiveness of primary drug stockpiles, according to research made available ...

Researchers warn: 'Antivirals might be wasted on the elderly'

Jul 28, 2009

A model of influenza transmission and treatment suggests that, if the current swine flu pandemic behaves like the 1918 flu, antiviral treatment should be reserved for the young. Researchers writing in the open access journal ...

Recommended for you

Ebola isolation at US base 'pretty much vacation'

9 hours ago

With plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.

Chinese-built Ebola center dedicated in Liberia

12 hours ago

China, one of the first countries to send aid to battle Ebola in West Africa, ramped up the assistance significantly Tuesday by opening a 100-bed treatment center in Liberia as rows of uniformed Chinese army ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.