Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases made the following recommendations
in relation to the clinical management of seasonal influenza.
Seasonal influenza may cause severe or even life-threatening diseases, especially
among individuals at risk for complications.
The initial management of severe or potentially severe influenza infections
remains largely clinical. If clinically indicated, empirical antiviral treatment
should be started as soon as possible. Laboratory confirmation of influenza
virus infection is NOT necessary for the initiation of treatment.
Antiviral treatment using neuraminidase inhibitors (NAI) has been shown to reduce
the duration of illness and complications of influenza. Empirical antiviral
treatment should be considered for any patient with suspected influenza who
is hospitalized, has severe or progressive illness, or is at high risk for complications
from influenza, including children and pregnant women, irrespective of vaccination
history. NAI has a good safety profile but monitoring of possible side effects
is generally recommended. The potential benefits generally outweigh the small
risks of possible adverse effects for patients with severe influenza infections
or at risk for major influenza complications.
While there have been a number of innovations in diagnostic tools for influenza,
they may still be subject to various limitations e.g. limited access or longer
turnover time for laboratory-based tests, often lower sensitivity for point-of-care
tests and intrinsic limitations (variable time profile / localization of virus
expression) in specimen collection for both types of tests.
The sensitivities of available rapid antigenic diagnostic tests for influenza
are limited. A negative rapid antigenic diagnostic test does NOT rule out influenza,
especially during peak influenza periods.
Although some rapid molecular tests have been developed for use nearer the bedside,
they may still suffer from varying degrees of limitation in sensitivity as compared
to the standard laboratory-based tests.
The Hong Kong Medical Association, founded in 1920, aims to bring together Hong Kong's government, institutional, university and private medical practitioners for an effective exchange of views and co-ordination of efforts. The foremost objective of the Association is to safeguard and promote public health. The Association speaks collectively for its members and aims to keep its members abreast of medical ethics, issues and advances around the world. In fulfilling these goals, the association hopes to better serve the people of Hong Kong.
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