At this time the best treatment for swine flu is prevention. Doing everything possible to avoid the flu may be more effective than the drugs and vaccine that we have (or maybe don’t have). The vaccine for H1N1 is scheduled to arrive in mid October but there will only be about 45 million doses and those will have to be doled out according to priorities set by your local health department.
The fact that we don’t have enough vaccine to go around may or may not be a problem. This vaccine was rushed into production and has not undergone the extensive testing that other vaccines have. The first question is will it work. The second question is what are the side effects. We won’t know those answers until late October.
There are two antiviral drugs available for flu, Tamiflu and an older drug Relenza. These drugs can be used to treat the flu or be used to prevent the flu in high risk populations like nursing homes. The good news is that the U.S. has at least enough stockpiled to treat 25% of the population. The bad news is that H1N1 might be immune to Tamiflu. In tests done in New York City last January, 99% of the H1N1 cases were Tamiflu resistant.
The other bad news about the drugs is that they work best when administered within 48 hours of coming down with swine flu. They won’t be prescribed unless the person tests positive for the strain. Now that the World Health Organization has stopped asking for test results, tests may or may not be given as readily as they were.
There are basically three types of tests. One can be completed in your doctor’s office in about 30 minutes. The problem with this test is it misses the flu roughly 30% of the time and also has a reputation of giving false positives. The other two tests require a lab. The actual test takes three hours to complete but add in transportation time and backlog and you’ll be lucky to see results in four days, two days longer than the recommended time to administer antivirals.
So the best answer to what’s the best flu treatment is, don’t catch it. If that doesn’t work; then your back to traditional treatment like fever medicine, rest, plenty of fluids, nutritious diet and Mom’s chicken soup.
This is going to be a big one and something you can’t ignore. It will affect your life either directly or indirectly. You need a plan on how to deal with it much as you would for dealing with an earthquake or hurricane.
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