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Antivirals effectively curb influenza virus

authors reviewed the effects of each antiviral on infectiousness and pathogenicity ?the ability of the influenza virus to cause overt disease. Pathogenicity in controls ranged from 44 percent to 66 percent. Efficacy in reducing pathogenicity for zanamivir was 52 percent and 56 percent in the two zanamivir studies; for oseltamivir, it was 56 percent and 79 percent. The researchers found that both drugs were highly preventive against influenza illness, with oseltamivir at 81 percent efficacy and zanamivir at 75 percent. Thus, the preventive use of either product reduced by 75 percent to 81 percent the chance that an exposed person would become ill with influenza.

The researchers' analysis found a significant reduction in infectiousness, as defined by reductions in influenza illnesses in household contacts, when oseltamivir was used for treatment of ill persons, but not when zanamivir was administered. Although these results are of interest, the authors stress that the numbers were small and combined estimates from two studies for each drug were used in both instances. Furthermore, oseltamivir treatment of ill persons did not appear to reduce the frequency of influenza infection in their contacts.

In exploring the reasons for oseltamivir's greater effects on infectiousness, the authors speculated that the different modes of administration ?oral for oseltamivir and inhaled for zanamivir ?and resultant upper-respiratory viral levels could be the key, with zanamivir not reaching or affecting influenza virus in the nose. While both antivirals reduced cough, in earlier studies inhaled zanamivir did not significantly reduce nasal symptoms. In the paper the authors discussed the possibility that infectious droplets inhaled and exhaled from the nose may be important in viral transmission, thus orally administered oseltamivir might have an advantage in limiting spread.

In addressing the limitations to their research, the authors call for further stu
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Source:Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center


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