Bird Flu Alarm

Treatment and vaccines for bird flu

Several antiviral medications used to treat human influenza are also effective for bird flu. These could be used if a person developed symptoms after possible exposure to avian influenza, or to prevent illness in a person who was in close contact with avian influenza.

At present people living in Australia, or people making short visits to affected countries, do not need to have antiviral medications. However Australians living in countries affected by avian influenza should consider having access to a supply of antiviral medication, to be used on medical advice.

The Australian Government is stockpiling Relenza and Tamiflu, two drugs that may be used in the treatment of human cases of bird flu. In the case of an outbreak in humans, these drugs would be used to maintain essential services, prevent transmission and provide treatment for people who are already ill.

A vaccine against bird flu is in development, but is not currently available. The current influenza vaccines will not protect humans against bird flu. However, people who may be exposed to bird flu should consider being vaccinated against human influenza viruses to reduce the risk of the viruses "mixing" to form a new flu strain.