Fighting the Scourge

By: Norma D'souza

World Health Organization (WHO) has developed pharmacological advice for the use of antiviral treatments for highly pathogenic avian influenza.

There is a high price to pay when it comes to mass production of food stuff especially one of animal origin. Poultry has come under pandemic attacks leading to widespread human afflictions a number of times. Avian Influenza or bird flu is the one that just refuses to go away. Not in spurt for the time being, however it continues to take its toll. According to a poultry news source, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed pharmacological advice for the use of antiviral treatments for highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to a report in the January 2007 issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

According to the information available, "Recent spread of avian influenza A (H5N1) virus to poultry and wild birds has increased the threat of human infections with H5N1 virus worldwide," write Holger J. SchÃ?nemann, MD, and colleagues from the WHO Rapid Advice Guideline Panel on Avian Influenza. The information adds that "despite international agreement to stockpile antivirals, evidence-based guidelines for their use do not exist."

The WHO convened an international panel to develop evidence-based guidelines for pharmacological treatment of H5N1 patients, evaluating the benefits, harms, burden, and cost of interventions in several patient and exposure groups.

The group agreed on a number of strong recommendations relating to treatment of H5N1 patients in a non-pandemic situation, as the poultry news source information goes.

Patients should receive oseltamivir treatment as soon as possible. Another line of treatment being Tamiflu has been found to be very effective. The recommendations of the group being - if neuraminidase inhibitors are available, clinicians should not administer amantadine or rimantadine alone as a first-line of treatment; high-risk exposure groups should receive oseltamivir as chemoprophylaxis continuing for 7 to 10 days after the last known exposure.

The WHO conceded that the quality of the evidence used for determining these recommendation was very low, because it was based on small case series of H5N1 patients, as the information goes.

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