Influenza Treatments

Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics have no effect on the infection; unless prescribed for secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia. Antiviral medication can be effective, but some strains of influenza can show resistance to the standard antiviral drugs.

The two classes of antiviral drugs used against influenza are neuraminidase inhibitors and M2 protein inhibitors (adamantane derivatives). Neuraminidase inhibitors are currently preferred for flu virus infections since they are less toxic and more effective.

The CDC recommended against using M2 inhibitors during the 2005–06 influenza season due to high levels of drug resistance. As pregnant women seem to be more severely affected than the general population by the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, prompt treatment with anti-influenza drugs has been recommended.

Neuraminidase inhibitors

Antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu) and zanamivir (trade name Relenza) are neuraminidase inhibitors that are designed to halt the spread of the virus in the body.

These drugs are often effective against both influenza A and B.

Different strains of influenza viruses have differing degrees of resistance against these antivirals, and it is impossible to predict what degree of resistance a future pandemic strain might have.

M2 inhibitors (adamantanes)

The antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine block a viral ion channel (M2 protein) and prevent the virus from infecting cells.

Measured resistance to amantadine and rimantadine in American isolates of H3N2 has increased to 91% in 2005.

This high level of resistance may be due to the easy availability of amantadines as part of over-the-counter cold remedies in countries such as China and Russia, and their use to prevent outbreaks of influenza in farmed poultry.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Influenza" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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