Major Flu Strain Found Resistant to Leading Drug, Puzzling Scientists
January 9, 2009, New York Times
Virtually all the dominant strain of flu in the United States this season is resistant to the leading antiviral drug Tamiflu, and scientists and health officials are trying to figure out why. The problem is not yet a public health crisis because this has been a below-average flu season so far, and because the Tamiflu-resistant strain, one of three circulating, is still susceptible to other drugs. But infectious disease specialists are worried nonetheless. Last winter, about 11 percent of the throat swabs from patients with the most common type of flu that were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for genetic typing showed a Tamiflu-resistant strain. This season, 99 percent do. “It’s quite shocking,” said Dr. Kent A. Sepkowitz, director of infection control at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “We’ve never lost an antimicrobial this fast. It blew me away.” The single mutation that creates Tamiflu resistance appears to be spontaneous, and not a reaction to overuse of the drug. Complicating the problem, antiviral drugs work only if taken within the first 48 hours of infection.
Note: Isn’t Tamiflu the same drug that was, according the the U.K.’s respected Independent, “bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease [avian flu],” and from which Donald Rumsfeld “made more than $5m in capital gains from selling shares”? What ever happened to all the panic about the avian flu? Could it be that it was only fear mongering? For reliable information on this key topic, click here.