Effectiveness of Oseltamivir Prophylaxis in Influenza Outbreaks in Residential Aged Care

J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2020 Jun;10(2):184-189. doi: 10.2991/jegh.k.200402.001.


Influenza outbreaks in Aged Care Facilities (ACFs) can lead to hospitalizations and deaths. Influenza can spread rapidly through ACFs if precautionary measures are not taken. Along with influenza vaccination and precautionary hygiene measures, Oseltamivir Prophylaxis (OP) may be effective in reducing the attack rate of influenza by preventing new cases. A cohort study was carried out to investigate the effectiveness of OP use during influenza outbreaks in ACFs located within South Western Sydney Local Health District from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2018. The main outcome assessed was the rate of OP failure (new cases of influenza in patients treated with OP) among ACF residents. Subgroups and various predictors of OP failure were investigated including presence of a dementia ward, high care ward, and days to Public Health Unit (PHU) notification. The cohort consisted of 86 ACF outbreaks involving 10,064 residents. OP prevented 90% of influenza cases during influenza outbreaks [0.1 RR (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08-0.12); P < 0.0001]. ACFs with dementia wards had a 44% (0.56 relative risk (RR) (95% CI: 0.34-0.93); P < 0.05) lower OP failure rate. ACFs with high level care had an 87% (0.13 RR (95% CI: 0.05-0.38); P < 0.05) lower OP failure rate. OP is highly effective in preventing new cases of influenza during outbreaks in ACFs, especially in ACFs with dementia or high care wards. Mandatory reporting of influenza outbreaks to PHUs would ensure that ACFs are supported throughout the outbreak, which will facilitate reductions in hospitalizations and mortality.

Keywords: Influenza; aged care facilities; oseltamivir; outbreaks; prophylaxis; public health preparedness; vaccination.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks* / prevention & control
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human* / prevention & control
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Oseltamivir* / therapeutic use
  • Post-Exposure Prophylaxis*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Oseltamivir