Spread of flu in families
reduced with new drug
like to share a lot of things, but the flu shouldn't be one of
them. A new study, published in the Nov. 2 issue of The New England
Journal of Medicine, found that zanamivir can prevent the flu
from making the rounds within a family when one member becomes
close interaction of the typical family makes it easy for influenza
to spread throughout a household," said Dr. Frederick Hayden,
professor of internal medicine at the U.Va. Health
System and lead investigator of the study.
Zanamivir, an inhaled neuraminidase inhibitor, received approval
for treatment of influenza from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was designed
to examine the effectiveness of zanamivir in preventing the spread
of influenza A and B from one infected family member to other
members. During the influenza season, ill individuals with suspected
influenza were randomized to receive either treatment with zanamivir
or placebo. Their well family members not infected with the flu
received the same blinded medication once daily for prevention
showed that zanamivir significantly reduced the risk of acquiring
the flu by 79 percent. Out of 337 total families, 19 percent receiving
placebo had one or more members who developed laboratory confirmed
influenza during prophylaxis as compared with only 4 percent in
the group receiving zanamivir.
tell us that the spread of influenza in the household is a serious
problem, and sometimes turns into weeks of illness that can significantly
disrupt their day-to-day activities," Hayden said.
care professionals have been reluctant to use one anti-influenza
agent for both treatment and prevention in the same household
due to the resistance problems that were seen with the older drugs
amantadine and rimantadine. However, in this study no resistance
was observed with zanamivir.
Influenza or flu is a viral infection that affects approximately
25 million people each year in the U.S., the majority of whom
are not vaccinated. During an average year, the flu causes over
20,000 excess deaths, results in as many as 300,000 hospitalizations,
and is associated with combined direct and indirect healthcare
costs of about $12 billion per year.