The Latest Guidelines


Antiviral Treatment of

Influenza: The Latest Guidelines

While clinical judgment based on the patient’s disease severity and progression, age, underlying medical conditions, likelihood of influenza, and time since symptom onset is important to consider when making antiviral treatment decisions — the body of evidence available at this time has led CDC to recommend that, for the 2010-2011 influenza season, empiric antiviral treatment with the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®), be considered for a patient who:

  • Has severe, complicated, or progressive illness;
  • Is hospitalized; or
  • Is at higher risk for influenza complications, including pregnant women and people with certain underlying medical conditions.

When clinically indicated, influenza antiviral medications should be used to treat these most vulnerable patients as soon as possible, ideally (but not limited to) within 48 hours of symptom onset. Treatment should not wait for laboratory confirmation of influenza. Antiviral treatment can also be considered for any previously healthy, non-high-risk, symptomatic outpatient with confirmed or suspected influenza based upon clinical judgment, if treatment can be initiated within 48 hours of illness onset.

Influenza vaccination is used to prevent influenza infection and prompt antiviral therapy to treat influenza infection; of which are the 2 most important medical countermeasures against the influenza viruses. Their correct application by healthcare professionals can provide life-saving benefits to patients.

For additional information about antiviral drug recommendations for the 2010-2011 influenza season, please visit

For additional information, please visit the Emerging Infections Programs Web site. Thank you.


Alicia M. Fry, MD, MPH

Authors and Disclosures

Posted: 01/18/2011

Web Resources

CDC Seasonal Influenza


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