HealthDay News — Following reports of severe influenza illness, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging rapid antiviral treatment for very ill and high-risk patients with suspected influenza.

According to a CDC health advisory, influenza activity is increasing across the country, with reports of severe influenza illness. Suspected influenza should be treated with antivirals in high-risk outpatients, those with progressive disease, and all hospitalized patients, as soon as possible, and without waiting for real-time polymerase chain reaction testing results.

Clinicians should encourage all patients (aged 6 months and older) who have not yet received vaccination to be vaccinated against influenza. To determine whether antiviral medication treatment is warranted, persons with influenza-like illness who are at high-risk for complications should seek care promptly. Decisions about starting antiviral treatment should not be delayed while waiting for laboratory confirmation of influenza; caution should be exercised in interpreting negative rapid influenza diagnostic test result for informing treatment decisions. Antiviral treatment should be initiated as soon as possible after illness onset, ideally within 48 hours of symptom onset; there may be benefits for treatment initiated up to four to five days after symptom onset.

“Clinicians should continue efforts to vaccinate patients this season for as long as influenza viruses are circulating, and promptly start antiviral treatment of severely ill and high-risk patients if influenza is suspected or confirmed” according to the advisory.

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