Influenza cases propelled by fever-suppressing meds
In a study from McMasters University, researchers drew on the results of experiments on both humans and ferrets – the best animal model for human influenza – into viral shedding of influenza.
They then applied a mathematical model to estimate the increase in the amount of virus given off by a single person taking fever-reducing drugs – such as paracetamol and ibuprofen – and therefore the spread of the virus at population level.
They found that fever suppression increases the amount of annual cases in North America by approximately 5%, corresponding to more than 1000 additional deaths from influenza in a typical year.
The researchers argued the contribution of fever-suppressing medication to increases in cases of influenza is both biological and behavioural. Not only does fever lower the amount of virus in a person’s body and therefore reduce transmission but people who take fever-reducing medication are more likely to