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7 Healthcast

Flu outbreak causes increased demand for Tamiflu

UNDATED (NBC) -- Many came down with the flu over holiday break and now some could be bringing it to work and it isn't a head cold.

"Influenza is a high fever, aching in every bone in your body a little bit of a cough it really can knock you off your feet for a good 4 or 5 days," said Dr. Melody Mendiola, a physician.

Dr. Mendiola said patients are asking for prescriptions for tamiflu to shorten their illness.

"It would probably shorten it anywhere from one to three days," said Dr. Mendiola.

But Tamiflu needs to be taken as soon as symptoms start.

"Within 24, 48 hours for sure really it doesn't do much of anything after 48 hours," said Dr. Mendiola.

Something to consider: If you are able to get to your clinic within a day of those symptoms coming on, you still may or may not be given a prescription.

"We want to try to make sure that we save it so that we have enough supplies and for the people that are most at risk so elderly people, people with chronic health conditions, really the people that are most at risk for being hospitalized," said Dr. Mendiola.

Young, usually healthy people will likely be told to go home and rest.

Mendiola said there's no shortage of Tamiflu yet, but, there could be late.r

"It's a pretty heavy season we've seen a lot of people with flu symptoms and testing positive," said Mendiola.

To avoid getting the flu, doctors recommend getting a flu shot.

Washing your hands also helps. Health officials urge those with flu symptoms to stay home until they are well, that is 24 hours after their fever breaks, without fever reducing medication.