Microsoft word - 0060324 common sense to fight bird flu.doc

might help cope with an outbreak of H5N1, it is For one thing, stocks are limited and it will take years for Roche to ramp up production -- even if, Little can be done to prevent an outbreak of bird as is being discussed now, it licenses generic flu if it comes in the next year or so before vaccine production can get started, health experts caution, but they say common sense Plus, the more widely any drug is used, the more likely the virus or bacteria it targets is to develop what is known as resistance, meaning the drug Number one is hand-washing, they say - a surprisingly effective way to prevent all sorts of Both Tamiflu and Relenza treat a flu infection, diseases, including ordinary influenza and the making it less serious and perhaps making the H5N1 virus that everyone now fears may jump illness last fewer days. But they must be taken into humans and cause a catastrophic pandemic. within 48 hours of the first symptoms to do any Number two -- do not try to buy your own personal supplies of Tamiflu, one of two drugs They can also prevent infection with garden- variety flu if taken, for example, by a family member caring for a sick relative. No one knows And number three , stay home if you do get sick. Old-fashioned hygiene works very well, experts "If you were to take it as a preventative you'd have to take it for probably weeks, a pill a day, 75 milligrams a day is what they recommend," "You wash your hands and you cut the transmission of a bunch of diseases," said Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths of Tufts University School of And the average person is not going to know when, precisely, to begin taking the drug. Many infections look like flu, said pediatrician and This is because any type of influenza is mostly immunologist Dr. Anne Moscona of Weill Cornell wipe their noses, then touch a microwave button. Or particles from a cough land on a tabletop, only "If you have Tamiflu at home and you take it for a to be picked up on someone else's finger. cold or give it for a respiratory virus that is not influenza, we will be unable to use these drugs While viruses can be suspended in the air in when we encounter a lethal strain of flu," droplets, doctors agree they are much more commonly spread on the hands. Alcohol-based gel or foam hand sanitizers also work well to If people do get sick, they must be careful to stay "Not exposing yourself to others is the best thing effective -- Roche and Gilead Sciences' Tamiflu, you can do for public health," said Dr. Chris and GlaxoSmithKline's inhaled powder Relenza. Woods of Duke University Medical Center in But Dr. D.A. Henderson, who helped lead the But if people are forced to go out while ill, effort that wiped out smallpox and who founded wearing a face mask would be a responsible the Center for Biosecurity at the University of thing to do, although it is unlikely to protect Pittsburgh, said it would be a mistake for individuals to try to buy the drugs now. "People have asked, 'Should we wear masks?'," Henderson said. Studies show that people usually breathe in so forcefully when they wear a "I think Tamiflu is being regarded now as the mask that they end up sucking in unfiltered air panacea of all panaceas," Henderson said in a Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Henderson and other experts say while Tamiflu Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Common sense can help people protect themselves against a Bird Flu pandemic


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