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Influenza symptoms are similar to those of other common respiratory infections. Patients presenting with these symptoms are commonly treated empirically, without a formal diagnosis.
The problem in relation to antimicrobial stewardship is twofold. Patients with Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), a medical diagnosis based on symptoms alone, are often treated with antibiotics, even though the most common cause for this set of symptoms is influenza, a viral infection. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses.
Alternatively, these patients are often automatically prescribed with influenza antivirals, which will be unnecessary if influenza is not the cause of infection and are only effective if prescribed within 48 hours of onset of symptoms.