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GPs told to give antibiotics to at-risk in flu pandemic

GPs have been advised to respond to a flu pandemic by offering antivirals to all adults who show symptoms – and in some cases antibiotics as well.

The Department of Health has released new guidance on the management of patients during a flu pandemic, in collaboration with experts from the British Infection Society, British Thoracic Society and the Health Protection Agency.

The document, published in a supplement to the January issue of Thorax, recommends antivirals for all patients over one year old with acute influenza-like illness and high temperature who present within

48 hours of symptom onset.

A delayed antibiotic prescription should also be considered for adults with flu to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

Professor Paul Little, lead member of the primary care group of the guideline development committee, said GPs would be at the forefront of the battle against a pandemic.

Professor Little, professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton and a GP in the city, said: 'However pandemic flu is defined, antivirals will be offered. I'm not for profligate use of antibiotics, but for at-risk groups it will be reasonable to offer them straight away.'

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