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Review
. 2001 Jun;17(6):1282-93.
doi: 10.1183/09031936.01.00084301.

Influenza: Vaccination and Treatment

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Free article
Review

Influenza: Vaccination and Treatment

I Stephenson et al. Eur Respir J. .
Free article

Abstract

Few conditions exert such an enormous toll of absenteeism, suffering, medical consultations, hospitalization, death and economic loss as influenza. Patients at high risk of complications and mortality include the elderly and those with pre-existing cardiopulmonary disease. The outbreak in 1997 in Hong Kong, of avian H5N1 influenza in man, which resulted in six deaths among 18 hospitalized cases, and the recent isolation of H9N2 viruses from two children in Hong Kong, are reminders that preparation must be made for the next pandemic. Since the 1970s, efforts to control influenza have mostly focussed on the split product and surface antigen vaccines. These vaccines are of proven efficacy in healthy adults and are effective in elderly people with and without medical conditions putting them at high risk of complications and death following influenza infection. However, vaccine coverage is patchy and often low, and outbreaks of influenza are not uncommon in well-immunized residents of nursing homes. New vaccines and methods of vaccine delivery are being developed in attempts to overcome the limitations of existing vaccines. The antiviral drugs amantadine and rimantadine were developed in the 1960s, but have not been used widely due to their spectrum of activity, rapid emergence of resistance, and adverse effects associated with amantadine. The site of enzyme activity of the influenza neuraminidase is highly conserved between types, subtypes and strains of influenza and has emerged as the target of an exciting new class of antiviral agents that are effective both prophylactically and as therapy.

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