What's the treatment for avian influenza?There is no effective treatment for avian influenza. Good husbandry, proper nutrition, and broad spectrum antibiotics may reduce secondary infections. It must be remembered that recovered flocks continue to intermittently shed the virus.
Avian influenza in humans can be detected reliably with standard influenza tests. Antiviral drugs are clinically effective in both preventing and treating the disease. Vaccines, however, take at least four months to be made and must be prepared for each subtype. Once the disease has been detected and reported, stringent disease control measures must be taken.
An antiviral medication, oseltamivir, TamifluTM, Roche Laboratories, is used as a treatment for influenza A and B, and as prophylaxis within 48 hours of exposure, to help treat a person exposed to or infected with this virus. Studies to date suggest that these prescription medications approved for human influenza strains would be effective in preventing avian influenza infections in humans. However, sometimes flu strains can become resistant to these drugs and so they may not always be effective.
These are the M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine) and the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanimivir). These drugs have been licensed for the prevention and treatment of human influenza in some countries, and are thought to be effective regardless of the causative strain.
However, initial analysis of viruses isolated from the recently fatal cases in Viet Nam indicates that the viruses are invariably resistant to the M2 inhibitors. Further testing is under way to confirm the resistance of amantadine. Network laboratories are also conducting studies to confirm the effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors against the current H5N1 strains.