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First transmission of antiviral-resistant swine flu

September 10, 2009 |  1:09 pm

Pig Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified what they believe to be the first case involving transmission of a Tamiflu-resistant pandemic H1N1 virus from one person to another but have so far found no evidence that the virus spread beyond the initial two known patients. But the findings highlight the dangers of using antiviral drugs like Tamiflu in an effort to prevent infections by the virus, commonly known as swine flu. Researchers fear that indiscriminate use of the drugs will lead to widespread resistance, as is now the case with seasonal flu, and the new findings provide the first hint that this could easily happen.

As of Sept. 4, the CDC has identified a total of nine cases of resistance to Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir. The drug's manufacturer, Roche Holding, said Monday that it knows of 13 cases worldwide.

The new cases, reported today in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, involve two girls who were attending summer camp in North Carolina. Both girls, who shared the same cabin, had been given Tamiflu prophylactically after an outbreak of pandemic H1N1 virus at the camp; at least 600 campers and staff were treated with the drugs. Despite their use of Tamiflu, both girls developed symptoms of flu and were subsequently confirmed to have the virus. The testing also showed that each girl's virus was resistant to Tamiflu but not to Relenza, the other antiviral agent used to treat swine flu. Both were given therapeutic doses of Tamiflu and recovered with no problems.

Six other campers who received Tamiflu prophylactically also contracted swine flu, but their viruses were not tested for resistance. Researchers do not know whether the two girls developed the resistant virus independently -- unlikely -- or if they were both infected by a third, as-yet-unidentified camper. But the heartening news is that a study of their families showed that the virus was apparently not transmitted to anyone else by them.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

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Comments (3)

Yes, Virus mutate. Bacteria mutate. That is what they do best. The point of this story is NOT that the Swine Flu was "destroyed" by Tamiflu but that these girls did not die. Get the point? Tamiflu does not prevent the flu but limits the effects of the flu. It did what it was supposed to do. Without an arsenal, we will see quite a few deaths and with Tamilflu and Relenza, those who would have died actually live. 13 out of 100's of thousands of infected swine flu patients. This is a success! Please report the story, not your ignorant take on it. Stop trying to bend the story to your PC angle. I would rather my kid has nausea than death. By the way, do your journalists have biological or chemical backgrounds or an academic background with upper division course like organic chemistry, genetics, or immunology? Obviously not.

With reference to resistant HINI, you would think that immunostimulation is unavailable. The truth is that lithium and antidepressants double as effective immunostimulants. Access Medline or Pubmed, and check it out. The underlying question is why innumerable vested interests, including medical and lay media, suppressed this crucial resource in battling infectious disorders.

The implication from this post is that more judicious use of antivirals will either prevent or lessen the chances of antiviral resistance.

Some in the field of infectious disease control believe that, at best, it might slow down the development of resistant strains, but such resistance is inevitable.

Picture this: in the not too distant future (perhaps even now), it becomes painfully apparent (pun intended) that the medical community can no longer prevent, treat, or even contain catastrophic diseases that, for those infected, result in death in a matter of days. Neither antibiotics nor vaccines have any effect. Even further, the very hospitals that people run to for treatment have become deathtraps that foster the spread of these deadly diseases. The only hope is to strengthen your immune system to the point that it can deal with the pathogens, just as nature intended.

Science fiction? The book "Rising Plague" by Brad Spellberg, MD, an infectious disease expert, describes the pandemic in graphic terms, citing actual case histories that put sci-fi to shame. It is the opinion of many in this field that it has already arrived and we are doing nothing to prevent it. There is mounting evidence that infectious diseases are now the third leading cause of death in the US, and that the "antibiotic revolution" is over.

For more background, here is a link to "Bad Bugs, No Drugs" from the Infectious Diseases Society of America:

Information on nature-based illness prevention can be found in the book "The Wellness Project."

Roy Mankovitz, Director


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