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Worried about Swine Flu? Stay updated via the Swine Flu News site. Tamiflu (pronounced "TAM-ih-flew") is indicated for treating adults, adolescents, and pediatric patients one year of age and older with the flu (influenza) whose flu symptoms started within the last day or two. Tamiflu has also gained increased prominence in recent times as one of the possible and more effective treatments for the Bird Flu virus. Tamiflu is also used to help reduce the chances of individuals age 13 and older catching the flu. These individuals have a higher chance of getting the flu because they may spend time with someone who has the flu. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu if there is a flu outbreak in the community.

The impending bird flu virus is one of the main reasons for Tamiflu's recent intense popularity, and with that it's also part of the reason for the current shortage in supply of this medication. U.S. President, George Bush himself recently proposed a $7.1 billion plan to help protect the against a potential bird-flu pandemic by ramping up funding for vaccines and anti-viral drugs. Toward the end of May 2005, the manufacturers of Tamiflu (Roche) stated that demand for the medication was in excess of production capacity, with extended delays expected for new supplies. In order to satisfy U.S. demand, Roche planned to open a new production plant in North America during the second half of 2005.

Just recently as well, an Indian drug company Cipla announced that they would begin manufacture of generic oseltamivir without license from Roche. Roche meanwhile has been in discussions with four generic drug manufacturers about possibly issuing sublicenses to increase production. Roche are also said to be temporarily suspending shipments to many distributors in the United States in order to stem the backlog of orders.

The Bird Flu Pandemic

Avian influenza (also known as bird flu, avian flu, influenzavirus A, type A flu, or genus A flu) is a type of influenza virus that is hosted by birds, but may actually infect several species of mammals. It was first identified in Italy in the early 1900s and is now known to exist worldwide. A strain of the H5N1-type of avian influenza that emerged in 1997 has been identified as the most likely source of a future influenza pandemic.

Strains of avian influenza may infect various type of animals, including birds, pigs, horses, seals, whales and humans. However, wild fowl act as natural asymptomatic carriers, spreading it to more susceptible domestic stocks. Avian influenza spreads in the air and in manure. It can also be transmitted by contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing; however, there is no evidence that the bird flu virus can survive in well cooked meat. The incubation period is between three and five days. Symptoms in animals vary, but virulent strains can cause death within a few days.

In humans, the avian flu causes similar symptoms to other types of flu. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, conjunctivitis and, in severe cases, severe breathing problems and pneumonia that may be fatal. The severity of the infection will depend to a large part on the state of the infected person's immune system and whether or not the victim has been exposed to the strain before (and is therefore partially immune). In one sample case, a boy with H5N1 experienced diarrhea followed rapidly by a coma without developing respiratory or flu-like symptoms, thus suggesting some non-standard symptoms.

One thing is sure, the World must prepare for the chance that the deadly bird virus will change itself, spread person-to-person and spread quickly around the world. It may very well be inevitable.
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