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Influenza and Tamiflu resistance

December 16, 2008

tamifluScary news out of CDC, via CIDRAP. This year’s seasonal H1N1 virus seems to be increasingly resistant to Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, an anti-viral medication intended to lessen the symptoms and duration of those infected with flu, and to prevent those prophylaxed with the medication from getting it. According the CIDRAP report, 45 of 46 viruses tested by the CDC as of December 5, 2008 have shown resistance to Tamiflu.

This isn’t happening without warning, though. Late last season, viruses were being seen that had oseltamivir resistance. This report, via Recombinomics, notes that in February, the number of resistant viruses nearly doubled, thanks to a single outbreak in Chicago. Then, in August, Recombinomics published a report with statistics out of Australia and South Africa showing that 100% of the viruses were resistant to the medication. At that time, they noted that resistance would probably be seen in the Northern Hemisphere this winter.

And here’s why it’s scary. Whether or not you agree with the CDC’s recommendation to utilize Tamiflu this year, it is still considered a front-line drug for treating the flu, and it’s effectively been knee-capped, leaving doctors without a first med to reach for. I haven’t heard of any update to the recommendations, but will be sure to pass them along if anything becomes available.

So, what does this have to do with preparedness? Well, today, HHS issued updated guidance on the stockpiling and use of antiviral medications during an influenza pandemic. The current stockpile is full of Tamiflu. The recommendations for continuing to stockpile antivirals essentially reads, buy more Tamiflu. And, if you haven’t heard, the current H5N1 strain circulating in Asia has the same mutation as this year’s H1N1, giving it resistance to oseltamivir. Now, I know the two bugs can’t just join up and, Voltron-like, take over the world, but the dissonance between the antiviral recommendations and the reality of growing resistance is troubling.

Photo credit: Quiplash!, under dubious copyright

3 Comments leave one →
  1. mediccall permalink
    June 7, 2009 3:23 pm

    Hi, this is a colaboration info health public, i read and consult the
    “Committee on Implementation of Antiviral Medication Strategies for an Influenza Pandemic, Institute of Medicine”,this is a medical textbook that provides a comprehensive overview of epidemic and pandemic influenza (download PDF).

  2. March 20, 2011 2:02 am



  1. Guidance on Antiviral Drug Use during an Influenza Pandemic « In Case of Emergency

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