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CDC Issues Official Health Advisory on Increased Flu Activity

January 3, 2018

Seasonal influenza, predominantly from the A(H3N2) virus, has increased significantly in recent weeks, according an official health advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last Wednesday.

The health advisory notes that previous A(H3N2) virus-predominant influenza seasons have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons ≥ 65 years old, and in young children, compared to other age groups. The flu vaccine offered last season in the United States was estimated to be 32% effective against circulating influenza A(H3N2) viruses. The CDC expects that flu vaccine effectiveness this season will be the same, should A(H3N2) viruses continue to predominate.

The CDC is therefore recommending antiviral medications for treatment of influenza as an important adjunct to annual flu vaccination. The agency states that neuraminidase inhibitors should be used as soon as possible for treatment of influenza, cautioning that this treatment “should not be delayed even for a few hours to wait for the results of testing.”

To date, the Food and Drug Administration has approved 3 prescription neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications: Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), and Rapivab (peramivir). A generic version of Tamiflu is also available. All 3 of these antivirals are recommended for use in the United States during the 2017–2018 influenza season.

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seasonal Influenza A(H3N2) Activity and Antiviral Treatment of Patients with Influenza [health advisory]. December 27, 2017. Available at: click here. Accessed January 2, 2018.