Viral infections

Antiviral agents are most active when viruses are replicating. The earlier that treatment is given, therefore, the better the result. An important difficulty is that a substantial amount of viral multiplication has often taken place before symptoms occur. Apart from primary infection, viral illness is often the consequence of reactivation of latent virus in the body. In both cases patients whose immune systems are compromised may suffer particularly severe illness. Viruses are capable of developing resistance to antimicrobial drugs, with similar implications for the individual patient, for the community and for drug development. An overview of drugs that have proved effective against virus diseases appears in Table 14.1.

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