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Taiwan CDC expands target population for government-funded influenza antiviral drugs during December, 2011-March, 2012

In order to meet a possible increased demand for influenza antiviral drugs during the peak of the annual influenza season, Taiwan CDC has decided to expand the target population for the government-funded influenza antiviral drug use from December 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012. Taiwan CDC has decided to expand the target population for the government-funded influenza antiviral drug use to include patients with influenza-like illness who have a fever longer than 48 hours and family members/coworkers/classmates of confirmed influenza cases who display ILI. According to Taiwan CDC, beginning December 1, the target individuals, including: (1) persons meeting the case definition of persons with influenza-related complications; (2) pregnant women who need prompt treatment with antiviral drugs; (3) persons with ILI and signs of severe complications; (4) persons with ILI and major illness and injury or cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic or renal disease; (5) persons who are morbidly obese (i.e., BMI ≥35); (6) ILI cluster cases confirmed by the commander and the vice commander of the Communicable Disease Control Medical Network; (7) persons meeting the case definition of persons under investigation for possible H5N1 infection; (8) close contacts of “suspected H5N1 cases”, “probable H5N1 cases” and “confirmed H5N1 cases”; (9) patients with influenza-like illness who have a fever longer than 48 hours; and (10) family members/coworkers/classmates of confirmed influenza cases who display ILI, can have access to the government-funded influenza antiviral drugs when seeking medical attention at 1,258 contracted hospitals and clinics in the nation. According to the community respiratory virus surveillance data compiled by Taiwan CDC , influenza type B/Yamagata virus is the dominant influenza virus strain circulating in the community for the recent few weeks, which does not match the influenza B component of this year’s vaccine that contains a B/Victoria-like virus. As a result, this year’s vaccine offers less protection against the currently circulating B/Yamagata virus. Nevertheless, the antivirals in use, including Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective against both influenza A and B. In addition, the currently circulating influenza A/H3N2 and A/H1N1 viruses match the influenza A component of this year’s vaccine. Therefore, this year’s vaccine is protective against the circulating influenza A/H3N2 and A/H1N1 viruses. Taiwan CDC urges the public not to underestimate the threat of influenza and take everyday precautions, including washing hands regularly, paying attention to hand hygiene, practicing respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, resting at home while sick, and maintaining a normal daily routine, in order to effectively prevent influenza infection and reduce influenza transmission. If signs of severe complications such as shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, cyanosis, blood-stained mucus or thickening of mucus, chest pain, change of consciousness, low blood pressure or high fever that persists for more than 48 hours develop, please put on a mask and seek immediate medical attention. Further, it is important to follow the physician’s instructions and rest at home when sick. For more information on influenza antiviral drug use, timing of influenza antiviral treatment, contracted hospitals and influenza prevention, please visit the Taiwan CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov.tw/english/index.aspx or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922. Source:Centers for Disease Control, R.O.C.(Taiwan)