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A WHO medical expert, Dr. Nikki Shindo, said the U.N. agency thinks antivirals should be targeted mainly at people already suffering from other diseases or complications -- such as pregnancy -- that can lower a body's defenses against flu.
The CDC also said pregnant women should take the drugs if diagnosed with swine flu -- even though the effects on the fetus are not completely known.
Pregnant women are more likely to suffer pneumonia when they catch flu, and flu infections have raised the risk of premature birth in past flu epidemics. A pregnant Texas woman with swine flu died last week, and at least 20 other pregnant women with swine flu have been hospitalized in the U.S., including some with severe complications.
For all these reasons, risks from the virus are greater than the unknown risks to the fetus from Tamiflu and Relenza, said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC.
"We really want to get the word out about the likely benefits of prompt antiviral treatment" for pregnant women, she said.
Mexico now gives Tamiflu to anyone who has had direct contact with a person infected with swine flu, Cordova said. And now that schools are back in session, authorities plan to give it to any children who show symptoms and are suspected of being infected.
In Mexico's Baja California state, on the U.S. border, 5,689 children were turned away from schools when classes resumed because they had symptoms like runny noses, headaches or sore throats, the state education department reported Tuesday.
Swiss pharmaceuticals company Roche Holding AG announced it was donating enough Tamiflu for 5.65 million more people to WHO. A further 650,000 packets containing smaller doses of the drug will be used to create a new stockpile for children.
Mexican authorities had enough Tamiflu for 1 million people at the start of the outbreak and have received more, building reserves of 1.5 million courses.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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