In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza any workers who have been or could be exposed to infection through their work activity will be offered the antiviral oseltamivir subject to an individual risk assessment by the Health Protection Agency. Such workers are likely to include poultry workers on the infected farm, vets, catchers and cullers of poultry, and contractors involved in carcase disposal and site decontamination.
Our current United Kingdom strategy is to use antiviral drugs predominantly for treatment of people with pandemic influenza. We are currently considering the practicalities of giving short courses of anti-virals (as prophylaxis) to members of the household of a person with pandemic influenza. However, this would require a larger stockpile than currently planned.
The number of courses of anti-virals used in the prophylaxis of poultry workers and others potentially exposed to avian influenza is as follows:
Number 2005 Essex quarantine incident 10 2006 Norfolk H7N3 incident 129 2007 Suffolk avian influenza incident 554
Essex quarantine incident
Norfolk H7N3 incident
Suffolk avian influenza incident