Denmark Patient First To Develop Resistance To Tamiflu
A spokesperson from the vaccine manufacturer Roche confirmed reports Monday that a Denmark patient with H1N1 (swine flu) developed resistance to the antiviral Tamiflu, a drug known to decrease the spread and severity of the virus, Reuters reports (Cage/Arnold, 6/29). According to the AP/News & Observer, the patient has since recovered.
“The goods news is they just found one,” Carolyn Bridges, associate director for science in the influenza division at the CDC. Tamiflu resistance did not appear in the tests of two hundred H1N1 samples in the U.S., Bridges added.
The AP/News & Observer writes: “It appears the strain developed in a patient who was taking the drug to prevent illness, and it has not spread to others. That’s a much better scenario than if the patient had not been taking Tamiflu and picked up a drug-resistant strain already spreading through the public, said Bridges.” Roche scientists have ruled out the possibility that the Tamiflu-resistant strain is a combination of H1N1 and the seasonal flu virus. “Scientists have been worried about the new swine flu swapping genes with seasonal or other types of flu and perhaps mutating into a more dangerous or more infectious form,” according to the newspaper (Stobbe, 6/29).
“Common seasonal flu can resist Tamiflu and [David Reddy, Roche’s pandemic taskforce leader, told reporters] a case of resistance in H1N1 was not unexpected, adding Roche has been working on strategies to counter such a development,” according to Reuters (6/29).
Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal writes: “Thomas Skinner, spokesman at the CDC, said more cases like Denmark’s would raise greater concern. But with no other known instances of resistance, the CDC isn’t ready to stop recommending Tamiflu or Relenza, a similar drug produced by U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK), as effective against A/H1N1” (Greil, 6/29).
WHO Requests Countries Estimate How Many H1N1 Vaccines They Need
Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday examines the recent announcement by the WHO that all countries submit requests for the number of H1N1 vaccine they need (6/30).
Researchers Use Flight Patterns To Track Spread Of H1N1
A letter published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed flight data of travelers from Mexico during March and April 2008 in search of patterns that tracked the global spread of H1N1, Healthday News/Forbes reports, “Swine flu emerged this spring, but because passenger data from 2009 was not yet available, the investigators used 2008 flight information, noting that air travel patterns in March and April change little from year to year” (6/29).
AP/Google.com reports: “Scientists have long assumed a relationship between air travel and spread of the virus. But the new research for the first time confirmed the relationship, said Dr. Kamran Khan, who led the study” (Stobbe, 6/29). The study “confirms that tracking global flight patterns to determine where an infectious disease may strike next could provide governments and public health officials with a means of preventing and dealing with such threats,” Healthday News/Forbes writes (6/29).
Kenya Becomes Fifth Sub-Saharan African Country With H1N1
Kenyan health officials on Monday reported that a 20-year-old British student who has been in the country since June 21 has been confirmed to be the country’s first case of H1N1, the Nation reports (Mwaniki, 6/29). The Times of India writes, “Kenya is the fifth sub-Saharan African country to report cases of swine flu” (6/29). A full list of country cases and deaths is available here (WHO Influenza A(H1N1) – update 55, 6/29).