Little Evidence to Support Some H1N1 Flu Measures

Physicians need more direct contact from health agencies on what to do
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Some of the interventions that have been introduced in the wake of the outbreak of H1N1 flu have little or no evidence to support them, according to an editorial published online May 5 in The Lancet, while a report in the same journal asks whether or not the international response to the outbreak was fast enough.

Anastasia Maloney, a freelance journalist, writes that the Mexican government did not raise the alarm locally until 18 days after the World Health Organization first responded publicly to the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak in the country, by which time there were already cases of infection in the United States.

A comment from John McConnell, editor of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, questions the sustainability of using prophylactic oseltamivir, while a related editorial points out that thermal scanners at airports and culling of pigs have no scientific basis for their implementation. It also praises the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency for its rapid reaction to H1N1 flu, but criticizes it for failing to give sufficient practical advice on case and contact management.

"The practical aspects of management -- which swabs to take, which culture medium to use, where to send samples, and how to obtain antiviral medication -- have been communicated less effectively to health personnel," the editorial states. "While it is reassuring that there is a global effort in the fight against influenza A (H1N1), more attention is needed at a national level to ensure that those on the front line are kept abreast of accurate updates and practical advice."

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