A study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reports that prompt antiviral therapy can reduce the need for extended care among community-dwelling patients aged ≥65 in this first-of-its-kind research.

Sandra S. Chaves, MD, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues sought to explore predictors for extended care needs and the impact of antiviral treatment among 6,593 community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 who were hospitalized with influenza. Data on laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations from three influenza seasons (2010–2013) from over 250 hospitals in 13 states in the Influenza Hospitalization Network (FluSurv-NET) was applied to this study. Treatment was categorized as early (≤4 days) and late (>4 days) from the date of illness onset and extended care was defined as new placement in a skilled nursing home/long-term/rehabilitation facility upon hospital discharge.

RELATED: Evidence Supports Flu Vaccine for Nursing Home Residents

A total of 18% of patients in the study required extended care at discharge, with older age, the presence of neurologic disorders, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and pneumonia at admission as independent risk factors for extended care needs. Early treatment reduced the risk of extended care after hospital discharge by 25–60% and was independently associated with a reduction in hospital length of stay (LOS) for those hospitalized ≤2 days from illness onset.

Immediate antiviral treatment is recommended for all hospitalized patients with suspected or confirmed influenza and for all patients at high risk of serious complications from influenza, including patients aged ≥65 with flu-like symptoms. Older adults should seek medical care as early as possible when they develop these symptoms, stated Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Influenza Division.

For more information call (800) 232-4636 or visit CDC.gov.