Rapid Influenza Testing and Treatment With Antiviral Agents
Do all patients need to be tested or treated with antiviral medications for influenza?
Most healthy people age 5 to 65 years without a condition that puts them at higher risk of
complications from influenza, do not need to be tested for influenza or treated with antiviral
medications. Testing is not beneficial in healthy individuals since the Rapid Flu test is
insensitive and most healthy individuals do not benefit from treatment with antiviral medications
and will recover without complications.
Who should be tested for influenza and treated with antiviral drugs?
Influenza testing and antiviral medication is recommended for anyone who has symptoms of
lower respiratory tract infection (i.e. pneumonia, bronchitis) or those whose illness continues to
Testing and antiviral drugs are also recommended for those who are at higher risk for
complications from the flu including:
Children younger than 2 years old Adults 65 years and older Pregnant women People with chronic medical conditions including: Asthma or other chronic pulmonary conditions, cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus); Disorders that that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders); Immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV; People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, because of an increased risk for Reye syndrome.
When should health care providers start treatment with antiviral drugs?

Once the decision has been made to administer antiviral medication, treatment should be
initiated as soon as possible. Evidence shows the benefit from antiviral treatment is strongest
when treatment is started within 48 hours of illness onset.

What about patients who need to be hospitalized for influenza?

Early treatment with an antiviral drug is recommended for all people with suspected or
confirmed influenza requiring hospitalization. Studies have shown shorter hospital stays when
antiviral medications are used, even for patients whose treatment was started more than 48
hours after illness onset.
Should I have Tamiflu on hand “just in case” I get sick with the flu?

No. Taking Tamiflu can build up your resistance to flu medication if you use the drug
inappropriately; for instance taking it when flu-like symptoms aren’t actually influenza. Also,
Tamiflu is a medical resource that needs to available to treat high-risk patients who have
confirmed influenza. Personal stockpiling exhausts limited supplies of the drug.
The Everett Clinic


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