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Influenza is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with an average of 36,000 deaths attributed to the disease annually.1 Patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) often are evaluated by their primary-care physicians (PCPs). Antiviral therapy initiated within 48 hours of ILI symptom onset can shorten the course of influenza illness; antiviral therapy also is used as chemoprophylaxis for influenza, particularly in institutions and communities.2 Early laboratory diagnosis and knowing when influenza is circulating in the community can guide effective clinical management. To assess influenza-testing and antiviral-agent prescribing practices during the 2006-07 influenza season, personnel at four of 10 Emerging Infections Program (EIP)
sites with influenza hospitalization surveillance surveyed PCPs. This report describes the results of that survey, which indicated that 69.0% of the PCPs administered influenza tests to patients who had ILI during the influenza season and 53.8% prescribed antiviral agents,
including two (i.e., amantadine and rimantadine) no longer recommended by CDC. Health agencies, medical societies, and continuing medical education organizations should advance programs for physicians that increase awareness of recommendations regarding appropriate influenza testing and use of antiviral agents.
Influenza-Testing and Antiviral-Agent Prescribing Practices—Connecticut,
Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York, 2006-07 Influenza Season. JAMA. 2008;299(10):1127–1129. doi:10.1001/jama.299.10.1127
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