Early antiviral treatment can reduce flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, study finds

Treating patients with antivirals within the first two days of an influenza outbreak at a long-term care facilities can reduce the scale of the outbreak, according to a study published in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses.

For the study, researchers examined reports on more than 100 flu outbreaks at long-term care facilities compiled by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control between 2008 and 2014. Researchers defined outbreaks as three or more flu cases occurring within a 48-hour period. To determine attack rates, a measure of the speed at which the virus spreads, researchers diivided the total number of new cases by the population of a given setting. Attack rates ranged from 2.2 percent to 100 percent among the outbreaks studied. Researchers found initiating antiviral treatment within the first 48-hours of an outbreak was associated with viral attack rates below 25 percent.

"Early initiation of antiviral treatment may reduce the magnitude of influenza outbreaks. Clinicians should identify influenza patients and start antiviral use early to prevent large outbreaks in LTCFs," concluded the study's authors.

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