Mutant flu virus defies drug treatment

November 20, 2009 at 1:51 am (Global Issues)


By Judith Duffy | Daily Express UK

A STRAIN of swine flu which is resistant to the main drug being used in the battle against the pandemic has been discovered in Scotland, it emerged yesterday.

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Nicola Sturgeon said that experts will be keeping a close eye on developments

Two patients north of the Border were found to be suffering from a mutated form of the H1N1 virus which does not respond to Tamiflu.

One of the victims is from the Lothians area and another is believed to come from Fife.

Millions of doses of Tamiflu have been stockpiled as a first line of defence for the flu pandemic.

The anti-viral treatment was handed out to all suspected swine flu cases and their contacts in the early stages of the pandemic.

But critics warned trying to contain the outbreak was wasting resources and increasing the risk of drug resistance.

The World Health Organisation has now recorded 45 cases of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu around the globe.

Infections expert Professor Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, said it was not surprising resistant strains had been found in Scotland. He said: “Obviously the worry is that this might spread and cause outbreaks which are going to be resistant to Tamiflu.

“So far there has been no sign of that, it is a question of ‘watch this space’.

“Most of the time these Tamiflu-resistant strains are quite weak and don’t spread very well and that seems to be the case so far.”

Professor Pennington pointed out the vaccine programme was now under way and an alternative drug called Relenza was also available to treat swine flu.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said experts would be monitoring the situation.

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