Mild flu sea­son not all good news

Kapi-Mana News - - HEALTH - By JIM CHIPP

Fewer peo­ple caught the in­fluenza this win­ter but that was bad news for Kyle Per­rin.

Dr Per­rin is co-lead­ing a re­search project study­ing the use of parac­eta­mol to treat flu in Welling­ton, but his work has been slowed by a lack of sub­jects.

Dr Per­rin said ev­i­dence sug­gests that de­vel­op­ing a fever in re­sponse to in­fec­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial, be­cause many hu­man viruses are killed by tem­per­a­tures higher than 38°C.

His study aims to find out whether tak­ing medicines such as parac­eta­mol could make flu worse and slow re­cov­ery.

‘‘We are test­ing the the­ory that in­fluenza should be al­lowed to run its course,’’ he said.

A ran­dom trial of 80 pa­tients will be car­ried out at the new clin­i­cal tri­als unit at Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal.

‘‘Pa­tients who are en­rolled need to spend a least 48 hours with the unit so we can record their tem­per­a­tures and give them ei­ther a placebo or parac­eta­mol,’’ he said.

Pa­tients can be en­rolled for the study if they have the flu, but would not other­wise have been ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal.

‘‘We are tak­ing a group of pa­tients who would other­wise be told to go home have a rest on the couch and cups of tea.

‘‘Pa­tients aren’t re­garded as in-pa­tients, they’re study sub­jects.’’

Any­one who be­comes se­ri­ously ill af­ter be­ing en­rolled would be trans­ferred to the hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency depart­ment for treat­ment, he said.

Parac­eta­mol has been given to re­duce fever in the past in the be­lief that a very high tem­per­a­ture could in­duce febrile con­vul­sions but it is not likely, Dr Per­rin said.

‘‘A per­son with in­fec­tious dis­ease might get to 40 de­grees but very rarely higher than that.’’

Higher tem­per­a­tures are usu­ally caused by ei­ther trauma to the brain re­duc­ing its abil­ity to con­trol tem­per­a­ture, or drug re­ac­tion, he said.

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