Containing pandemic influenza with antiviral agents.


For the first wave of pandemic influenza or a bioterrorist influenza attack, antiviral agents would be one of the few options to contain the epidemic in the United States until adequate supplies of vaccine were available. The authors use stochastic epidemic simulations to investigate the effectiveness of targeted antiviral prophylaxis to contain influenza. In this strategy, close contacts of suspected index influenza cases take antiviral agents prophylactically. The authors compare targeted antiviral prophylaxis with vaccination strategies. They model an influenza pandemic or bioterrorist attack for an agent similar to influenza A virus (H2N2) that caused the Asian influenza pandemic of 1957-1958. In the absence of intervention, the model predicts an influenza illness attack rate of 33% of the population (95% confidence interval (CI): 30, 37) and an influenza death rate of 0.58 deaths/1,000 persons (95% Cl: 0.4, 0.8). With the use of targeted antiviral prophylaxis, if 80% of the exposed persons maintained prophylaxis for up to 8 weeks, the epidemic would be contained, and the model predicts a reduction to an illness attack rate of 2% (95% Cl: 0.2, 16) and a death rate of 0.04 deaths/1,000 persons (95% CI: 0.0003, 0.25). Such antiviral prophylaxis is nearly as effective as vaccinating 80% of the population. Vaccinating 80% of the children aged less than 19 years is almost as effective as vaccinating 80% of the population. Targeted antiviral prophylaxis has potential as an effective measure for containing influenza until adequate quantities of vaccine are available.

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