Tamiflu-resistant swine flu strain

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Doctors at Duke University Medical Center say the tamiflu-resistant H1-N1 virus was found in four patients there.

"This resistance is from a mutation but it doesn't mean that H1-N1 in general is mutating.  It's a mutation that's occurred in a small number of patients," said Dr. Zack Moore, Medical Epidemiologist.

"This is expected and not surprising," said Dr. Marsh Cuttino, CJW Hospitals.

Dr. Cuttino says the isolated mutation is part of the natural progression of any flu virus.

"The flu virus changes every year, and it does this through frequent mutations. That's why the flu changes and every year you have to get a new flu shot," said Dr. Cuttino.

The worry now is the tamiflu-resistant swine flu virus will spread and become more dangerous than the existing strains. But Dr. Cuttino says there's no reason to believe that threat is imminent.

"The rise of some isolated tamiflu resistance is not a reason to panic. This is an expected event and it is very isolated," Cuttino said.

Doctors generally prescribe medications like tamiflu only to at-risk patients in an effort to prevent widespread resistance to the drugs. In any case, doctors say the best way to help prevent the spread of any flu virus is to take the same common-sense measures they've been stressing all along.

"Cover your cough, wash your hands, and if you have the flu, please stay home," Cuttino said.

The Virginia Department of Health is reporting some encouraging swine flu numbers. At one point, H1-N1 was suspected in 14% of patients in Virginia's emergency rooms. Last week, that number was down to 5%.

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