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WHO: AaeHealthyAAE swine flu sufferers should not take Tamiflu.

By Jenny Hope Healthy people with swine flu should not be given the powerful drug Tamiflu, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday. The advice from a panel of international experts appears to directly contradict Government policy. Hundreds of thousands of healthy Britons have already been prescribed the antiviral to contain the spread of the disease. Those with underlying health conditions have also been given the drug and several studies have warned of possible side-effects. According to the new WHO guidelines: AoHealthy patients with uncomplicated illness need not be treated with antivirals.Ao The experts also recommend that Aootherwise healthy childrenAo older than five with the illness should not be given Tamiflu unless they fail to recover or their condition worsens. But all youngsters under five should be given antivirals as they are at Aoincreased risk of more severe illness.Ao The drugs should also be given quickly to patients in a serious condition or who appear to be worsening to cut the risk of pneumonia. Those in at-risk groupsAusuch as pregnant women or people with underlying medical conditions like diabetesAushould also receive the treatment promptly. The latest advice, published on the WHO website, said most patients were suffering typical flu symptoms and would recover within a week. More than 500,000 packs of Tamiflu were given to NHS patients in the first two weeks of the pandemic. Even as the number of new cases fell last week, 45,986 courses of antivirals were handed out. But there have been fears that the mass use of Tamiflu will encourage the virus to become resistant to it. It emerged this week that ministers ignored a warning from their own advisers that handing out Tamiflu widely could do more harm than good, especially as many patients suffer only mild symptoms. There have been 418 reports of side-effects, including sickness, nightmares and insomnia in children. A team from Oxford University said this month that children with mild swine flu symptoms should not be given the antiviral and urged a policy rethink. According to the WHO, people under 50 are more at risk of becoming seriously ill, with 40% of severe cases worldwide occurring in previously healthy children and adults. Doctors should be alert for Aovery rapidAo signs of deterioration, including shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, chest pain and high fever that lasts longer than three days. In children, danger signs include fast or difficult breathing, lack of alertness, difficulty in waking up and little wish to play. Latest figures showed a continuing fall in the number of new cases of swine flu, down to 11,000 in England last week compared to 25,000 the previous week. A spokesman for the Department of Health denied the WHO advice conflicted with its policy. He said: AoA safety-first approach of offering antivirals, when required, to everyone is a sensible and responsible way forward.Ao The Daily Mai

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Aug 24, 2009
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