Should I stock up on bird flu drugs?

The bird flu virus called H5N1 can kill you. There is no bird flu epidemic in humans, but there could be. You can get bird flu only from birds. Since humans spend more time with humans than they do with birds, humans are at very low risk for bird flu. The concern is that H5N1 could mutate and be spread from human to human. This could cause an epidemic that could kill millions of people throughout the world. At this time the only drugs we have to threat bird flu are Tamiflu and Relenza. On the first sign of chills or coughing during an epidemic, you would be instructed to take one Tamiflu pill twice a day for five days. This shortens the course of the disease by one day, which seems insignificant but could save your life. You could also take the drug prophylactically if you were exposed to people who have the flu. Relenza has to be inhaled , so you would take it only after you became sick.

If you hear that bird flu has mutated and is causing an epidemic among humans, you will want to get Tamiflu pills and have them ready if you need them. At this time it does not make sense to stockpile the drugs as there may never be a bird flu epidemic, the drugs are very expensive, and they have a limited shelf life.

December 10, 2005

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