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Rapid development of drug-resistant 2009 H1N1 influenza reported in 2 cases
Date:3/26/2010

Two people with compromised immune systems who became ill with 2009 H1N1 influenza developed drug-resistant strains of virus after less than two weeks on therapy, report doctors from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Doctors who treat prolonged influenza infection should be aware that even a short course of antiviral treatment may lead to drug-resistant virus, say the authors, and clinicians should consider this possibility as they develop initial treatment strategies for their patients who have impaired immune function.

Both patients in the new report developed resistance to the key influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), and one also demonstrated clinical resistance to another antiviral agent, now in experimental testing, intravenous peramivir, note senior authors Matthew J. Memoli, M.D., and Jeffery K. Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D. This is the first reported case of clinically significant peramivir-resistant 2009 H1N1 illness, say the scientists. The report is scheduled to appear in print on May 1 in Clinical Infectious Diseases and is now online.

The people in the current case report had immune limitations due to blood stem cell transplants that occurred several years previously. Both recovered from their influenza infections.

"While the emergence of drug-resistant influenza virus is not in itself surprising, these cases demonstrate that resistant strains can emerge after only a brief period of drug therapy," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "We have a limited number of drugs available for treating influenza and these findings provide additional urgency to efforts to develop antivirals that attack influenza virus in novel ways."

The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is susceptible to just one of the two available classes of anti-influenza drugs, the neuraminidase inhibitors. Besides oseltamivir, other neuraminidase inhibitors are zanamivir (Rel
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Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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