Pregnant Women Urged To Take Tamiflu for Swine Flu

Following the death of a pregnant woman from swine flu, pregnant women are being urged to take Tamiflu at first sign of the flu

by Jennifer Bunn, RN

Judy Trunnell, who was 33 at the time of her death, suffered from asthma, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis before she was struck with the swine flu. She lay in a coma for two weeks before her death, and her baby was delivered via cesarean section. It is believed that her chronic illnesses, plus the fact that she was pregnant, overwhelmed her immune system.

 

In the US, there have been approximately 3000 confirmed cases of swine flu, and many of these cases have occurred in children under the age of 18. Officials believe that this number is low, and that many others are or have been infected. Of this number, there are 30 confirmed cases of the new flu in pregnant women, and 3 women have been hospitalized.

 

Does being pregnant make a woman more likely to suffer adversely from the flu? Some experts believe so. It is thought that the state of being pregnant weakens a woman’s immune system, rendering her more likely to develop pneumonia and other serious flu complications. Becoming very ill with the flu may also increase a woman’s chances of delivering her baby prematurely. This is known to have happened during other serious flu outbreaks.

 

Health officials are now recommending that pregnant women be given Tamiflu at the first signs of illness. In order to be effective, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu must be given within the first 48 hours of the illness. Tamiflu will not stop the illness from occurring, but may shorten the duration of the illness (estimated to shorten it by 1 day) and the severity of the illness, which is what is of concern here, especially for pregnant women who have underlying disease such as asthma. The CDC is recommending that women who have suspected or confirmed cases of swine flu take Tamiflu for a total of 5 days.

 

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