Swedish researchers in Ume and Uppsala have found that residues of the influenza drug Tamiflu in our environment can make the influenza virus in birds resistant. This can have serious consequences in the event of an influenza pandemic. With more than 14 million SEK from the Swedish Research Councils Formas and VR, the research team will now continue their studies with a focus on alternative antiviral drugs.
Influenza is a viral respiratory infection that spreads rapidly and cause widespread epidemics. A severe influenza pandemic is a major health problem and treatment with antiviral medications is a central part of the preparedness plan. Tamiflu is the most widely used drug.
Hanna Sderstrm, environmental chemist and researcher at Ume University and Josef Jrhult, infectious disease physician and researcher at Uppsala University, together with Bjrn Olsen, professor at Uppsala University and Shaman Muradrasoli, researchers at SLU, Uppsala, have with a multidisciplinary approach followed what happens if Tamiflu comes out in nature.
"Our results show that Tamiflu's active metabolite, secreted by human urine, is not removed in traditional wastewater treatment plants. We have been able to trace Tamiflu in river water in Japan during the flu season 2007/ 08 as well as in Europe during the influenza pandemic 2009. Japan is the country that uses most antiviral drugs in the world during seasonal flu," says Hanna Sderstrm.
Based on the fact that dabbling ducks are the natural host for influenza viruses and that they often swim near the treatment plants, the researchers have examined whether influenza viruses in ducks exposed to Tamiflu via their bath and drinking water develops resistance.
"When ducks swim in water with environmentally relevant concentrations their influenza virus develop resistance. If a resistant influenza virus is spread to humans and causes a pandemic, this is a serious threat to public health since it takes
|Contact: Hanna Söderström|