Influenza, Human

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Influenza in the Nursing Home - Article

ABSTRACT: Although influenza affects persons of all ages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified several groups who are at increased risk for complications. One such group is residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. During influenza epidemics, mortality rates among nursing home residents often exceed 5 percent. To lessen the impact of this infection, the influenza vaccine is recommended as the primary way of preventing the illness and its complications. Many studies have shown that vaccination of nursing home residents and staff can significantly decrease rates of hospitalization, pneumonia, and related mortality. When an influenza outbreak occurs in a nursing home, several measures can be implemented by the treating physician. Treatment and prophylaxis can be accomplished using antiviral medications such as amantadine, rimantadine, and oseltamivir. The antiviral medication zanamivir can be used in the treatment of influenza, but not for prophylaxis. Once an outbreak has been established, control measures, including vaccination of unvaccinated residents and employees, and limitations on resident movement and visits, can be implemented.

An Office-Based Approach to Influenza: Clinical Diagnosis and Laboratory Testing - Article

ABSTRACT: Vaccination is the primary measure for preventing morbidity and mortality from influenza. During the influenza season, family physicians must distinguish influenza from the common cold and other flu-like illnesses. Signs and symptoms of influenza include abrupt onset of fever, severe myalgias, anorexia, sore throat, headache, cough, and malaise. Clinical diagnosis can be difficult or nonspecific when patients have other symptoms (e.g., stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat) that can be caused by various respiratory viruses or bacterial pathogens. Family physicians can improve diagnostic accuracy by being aware of the epidemiology of influenza. During outbreaks of influenza, commercially available rapid assays can be used to identify type A and B viruses. On average, rapid in-office tests are more than 70 percent sensitive and 90 percent specific for viral antigens. The assays vary in complexity, specificity, sensitivity, time to obtain results, specimen analyzed, and cost. The results of rapid viral tests can guide treatment decisions.

Antiviral Drugs in the Immunocompetent Host: Part II. Treatment of Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections - Article

ABSTRACT: Family physicians should be familiar with the various drugs available for treating and preventing viral infections. Part II of this two-part article focuses on agents used to manage influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. Rimantadine and amantadine traditionally have been used to prevent and treat influenza type A infections. The neuraminidase inhibitors zanamivir and oseltamivir have a broadened spectrum of activity in the treatment and prevention of influenza types A and B. Ribavirin has been used in some high-risk infants to treat respiratory syncytial virus infections, and palivizumab can be used for prophylaxis.

Avian Influenza: Preparing for a Pandemic - Article

ABSTRACT: Avian influenza A (H5N1) first emerged as a global public health threat in 1997 when it caused a major human outbreak in Hong Kong. Endemic in waterfowl and highly virulent in poultry, H5N1 is capable of incidentally infecting humans and other mammals. Although H5N1 is not yet capable of efficient human-to-human transmission, the protean nature of its genome could transform it into the source of the next human influenza pandemic. In the spring of 2006, migrating birds spread the virus from Asia to Europe and Africa. Preparing for a new influenza pandemic involves increasing global influenza surveillance and developing practical strategies for containing outbreaks at the source. Prompt case recognition, isolation, and treatment will be crucial for disease control. Pharmacologic interventions will focus on streamlining the production of vaccine, extending vaccine supplies, stockpiling antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir, and distributing these agents in a timely manner to persons who have the most need. Nonpharmacologic measures will include the use of masks, social distancing, quarantine, travel restrictions, and increasing the emergency capacity of health care systems.

Lowering the Age for Routine Influenza Vaccination to 50 Years: AAFP Leads the Nation in Influenza Vaccine Policy - Article

ABSTRACT: The American Academy of Family Physicians now recommends that all persons 50 years of age and older receive an annual influenza vaccination, because the rates of morbidity and mortality associated with influenza are high and vaccination is cost-effective. Reasons for lowering the recommended age for routine vaccination from 65 to 50 years of age include reductions in office visits, hospitalizations, time taken off work and associated costs. In working adults 18 to 64 years of age, the cost savings were estimated at $46.85 per person vaccinated. Furthermore, the fatality rate from influenza begins to rise at age 45 and is highest in persons with multiple chronic medical conditions. As in the past, recommendations target persons at high risk for complications, such as those with cardiac disease, lung disease and diabetes, as well as health care workers and residents of nursing homes. Severe allergy to eggs is a contraindication to influenza vaccination.

Common Infections in Older Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Infectious diseases account for one third of all deaths in people 65 years and older. Early detection is more difficult in the elderly because the typical signs and symptoms, such as fever and leukocytosis, are frequently absent. A change in mental status or decline in function may be the only presenting problem in an older patient with an infection. An estimated 90 percent of deaths resulting from pneumonia occur in people 65 years and older. Mortality resulting from influenza also occurs primarily in the elderly. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of bacteremia in older adults. Asymptomatic bacteriuria occurs frequently in the elderly; however, antibiotic treatment does not appear to be efficacious. The recent rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus) is a particular problem in the elderly because they are exposed to infections at higher rates in hospital and institutional settings. Treatment of colonization and active infection is problematic; strict adherence to hygiene practices is necessary to prevent the spread of resistant organisms.

Influenza Vaccine: Got It, Give It! - Editorials

N-Acetylcysteine: Multiple Clinical Applications - Article

ABSTRACT: N-acetylcysteine is the acetylated variant of the amino acid L-cysteine and is widely used as the specific antidote for acetaminophen overdose. Other applications for N-acetylcysteine supplementation supported by scientific evidence include prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation, prevention of contrast-induced kidney damage during imaging procedures, attenuation of illness from the influenza virus when started before infection, treatment of pulmonary fibrosis, and treatment of infertility in patients with clomiphene-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Preliminary studies suggest that N-acetylcysteine may also have a role as a cancer chemopreventive, an adjunct in the eradication of Helicobacter pylori, and prophylaxis of gentamicin-induced hearing loss in patients on renal dialysis.

A Tool For Evaluating Patients With Cold Symptoms - Improving Patient Care

Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Vaccine Prioritization - Feature

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