Oseltamivir May Prevent Pneumonia in H1N1 Patients

Also appears to reduce duration of fever, viral RNA shedding if taken within two days of symptom onset
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) treatment appears to be effective in preventing the development of radiographically confirmed pneumonia as well as reducing duration of fever and viral RNA shedding among patients with 2009 H1N1 infection, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in BMJ.

Hongjie Yu, M.D., of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed medical charts of 1,291 patients with confirmed 2009 H1N1 identified through the national surveillance system in China between May and July 2009.

The investigators found that fever (64 percent), cough (67 percent), sore throat (33 percent), sputum (19 percent), and rhinorrhoea (18 percent) were the most common symptoms. In addition, 110 of 920 patients who underwent chest radiography had abnormal findings consistent with pneumonia. The median number of days of shedding after onset of symptoms was five. Oseltamivir was used to treat 76 percent of patients from a median of the third day of symptoms, with treatment significantly protective against later development of radiographically confirmed pneumonia (odds ratio, 0.12). In addition, treatment with oseltamivir started within two days of the onset of symptoms reduced the duration of fever and viral RNA shedding.

"Though these patients benefited from treatment, the findings should be interpreted with caution as the study was retrospective and not all patients underwent chest radiography," the authors write.

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