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DH and HPA call for antiviral drugs to combat flu outbreaks

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Flu outbreaks across the UK have caused the Department of Health and Health Protection Agency (HPA) to ask that doctors prescribe antiviral drugs.

The HPA has reported 23 outbreaks across the UK, NHS Direct had a 200 per cent rise in callers between September 8 and December 7.

The DH has advised GPs to prescribe antiviral drugs in line with the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Dr Richard Pebody, an influenza expert from the HPA, said that the activity is in line with normal levels seen most winters.

‘Doctors in England have now been advised that the use of antiviral drugs for the prevention or treatment of flu in patients who are at higher risk of developing complications from the infection is now recommended,’ said Dr Pebody.

While vaccination offers the best protection for those at high risk of flu, antiviral drugs can be effective if taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

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