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Resistance to Tamiflu Growing
Date:3/2/2009

Mostly linked to influenza A strain, which is most common in US, study says

MONDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- A troubling increase in resistance to the antiviral drug Tamiflu is linked mostly to influenza A strains that are circulating this season, a new government report shows.

Almost 100 percent of the influenza A (H1N1) strain is now resistant to the drug, up from 12 percent during last year's flu season, said report author Dr. Alicia Fry, a medical epidemiologist with the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year was the first time Tamiflu resistance was seen anywhere in the world; H1N1 is the most common type of flu circulating in the United States.

"This makes using antiviral drugs very tricky for flu," said Dr. John Treanor, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "It is more complicated."

But, always, Fry emphasized, "Our message is to get vaccinated with the influenza vaccine. The current influenza vaccine has three different virus types in it, and the H1 strain that is in the vaccine is the same strain that is resistant to oseltamivir [Tamiflu], so the best prevention is still getting the vaccine."

"We're fortunate in that this is a very mild flu season, and we're not seeing either the numbers of cases or the complications that we normally see in a bad flu season," said Dr. Neil Schachter, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu. "While it is of concern that there are viruses that are developing resistance, it's not all the strains and it's not all the drugs. We're not painted into a corner."

Also, Schachter pointed out, many people with the flu are never treated at all.

"While there's still a flu season out there, everyone should get vaccinated," he said.


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