>Antivirals for Influenza – Ontario Guidelines

Helpful guidelines published by Ontario Health

What are antiviral medications for influenza?

Antiviral medications are recommended to treat and prevent influenza. Amantadine is an older antiviral medication that is no longer used. Drugs currently used in Canada are oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) which is an oral medication, and zanamavir (Relenza®) which is an inhaled medication. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are neuraminidase inhibitors which work by blocking the exit of the influenza virus from respiratory cells and therefore prevent further replication of the virus. Because antiviral medications prevent further replication of the virus, when used for treatment, they should be taken as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours of symptom onset.

What are the recommendations for the use of influenza antiviral medications?

Influenza antiviral medications are recommended for:

  • Treatment of moderate, progressive, severe or complicated influenza, such as individuals who are hospitalized with influenza-like illness;
  • Treatment of those at high risk for complications of influenza, such as children less than 5 years of age, adults 65 years of age and over, and those with underlying medical conditions
  • Treatment and prevention in influenza outbreaks in institutional settings

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