Last updateFri, 11 Mar 2016 6pm

Tamiflu over prescribed, health chiefs say

Tamiflu has no effect on respiratory problems caused by bacterial infections but many medics are not taking any chances given the rapid spread of the “flu” in recent weeks.

“It’s often hard to tell whether someone has influenza or just a severe gripe (cold),” one doctor told the Reporter this week. “Getting analysis takes time and is expensive. To be safe, many of us will prescribe Tamiflu in cases where the patient could be in danger of complications, such as diabetics, the obese or small children, or if they do not respond to an antibiotic after a few days of treatment.”

The manufacturers of Tamiflu and state health authorities say over eagerness by doctors to prescribe the medication is the reason for the current shortage of the drug.

Hector Ramirez Cordero, director of Public Health at the Jalisco Department of Health (SSJ), said the public was being “unjustifiably alarmed” about the fu season, which he said was developing “inside a normal range” of cases.

However, doctors say Jalisco’s total of 367 officially confirmed influenza cases (as of Tuesday, March 1) via laboratory tests is probably not a fair reflection of the real figure. Hospitals and clinics do not always send information of flu cases to federal authorities, and many patients recover at home without hospitalization or having specimens analyzed.  Reservations about the veracity of the figures is compounded when comparing them to the United States, where in the 2014-2015 season, 125,462 cases of influenza were identified, to Mexico’s 1,533 (figure from the Sistema de Vigilancia Epidemiológica de Influenza).  Influenza hospitalizations in Canada during that period were around 8,000. 

The SSJ has yet to respond to a request from state legislators demanding they issue a public health alert regarding  influenza.

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