Influenza and Tamiflu
Influenza is a viral illness caused by one of two subtypes, Influenza A and Influenza B. Each strain of flu can cause mild to severe symptoms or even death. The very young and the elderly are more likely to suffer from severe disease, but school age children are most likely to contract the illness and pass it on to others given their frequent interactions with large groups of people.
The CDC website is an excellent, comprehensive source of information on Influenza: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm
The best way to handle influenza is to AVOID it- via vaccination. We currently vaccinate all patients with a quadrivalent type vaccine (both Flumist and flu shot), meaning it contains two strains each of A and B. This vaccine is updated yearly to reflect the current circulating strains of Influenza A and B, as this virus mutates, or changes shape, frequently.
We are frequently asked if we treat Influenza with medication. Antibiotics do not treat the flu as it is a viral disease. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is an anti-viral medication that is often prescribed, but it must be started early (within 24-48 hours of onset of symptoms), may have significant side effects in children, and has not been shown to significantly impact the course of influenza disease. For more information on Tamiflu, please visit these well-written articles:
To Tamiflu or Not to Tamiflu
Dr. Mark Helm on Tamiflu
The Myth of Tamiflu