Bird Flu Alarm

Antiviral medication

Certain antiviral medications have been stockpiled for use in the event of an outbreak. These medications work by stopping the virus multiplying in your body.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu), Zanamivir (Relenza) and Peramivir (Rapivab) help reduce the severity of the condition, prevent complications and improve the chances of survival.

For regular flu, these medications are most effective if given within 48 hours of symptoms developing, but it's not clear if this is the case for bird flu. Nevertheless, they should be given as soon as possible to people suspected or proven to be infected, even if it's more than 48 hours after symptoms started.

These medications may also be given as a preventative measure to people who could have been exposed to bird flu viruses, for example, other household members, healthcare workers, or people who have had close contact with infected birds.

In these cases, the course of medication should begin as soon as possible after exposure to the virus and continue for 7 to 10 days after the last known exposure.