New Mutant Flu Strains May Compromise Tamiflu Effectiveness

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Visual Representation | Credits: AdobeStock
Visual Representation | Credits: AdobeStock

United States: According to US health experts, the H1N1 virus has been linked to two human cases of “dual mutant” strains. Regrettably, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed that the genetic alterations seem to lessen the effectiveness of Tamiflu, the most popular antiviral medication.

Discovery of Dual Mutant Strains

The latest research outlines these two alarming alterations, which scientists have named I223V and S247N. It was published on Wednesday in the agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

 The current discovery comes after a paper by Hong Kong scientists published in the Lancet journal in March of last year, which indicated the two mutations appeared to increase resistance to the flu medication oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

Research Findings

Researchers headed by senior scientist Mira Patel at the CDC claimed that lab testing revealed the altered flu viruses were up to 16 times less responsive to the antiviral, a lower drop-off than in some past concerning mutations. Nevertheless, the agency has not panicked just yet.

Current Impact and Future Monitoring

“These altered viruses continued to be susceptible to other anti-influenza drugs, such as the more recent baloxavir marboxil. A CDC representative told CBS News that there are no urgent plans to alter clinical care choices, and immunization continues to protect against viruses that have undergone mutations.

 The CDC paper also noted that these novel flu strains are now uncommon despite the “rapid spread of dual mutants to countries on different continents.”

Spread and Surveillance

According to CBS News, 101 sequences from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania have been added to the global viral database GISAID since the virus was discovered for the first time in a case taken from the Canadian province of British Columbia in May 2023.

This past autumn and winter, laboratories at the University of Michigan and the Connecticut Department of Health discovered the two U.S. cases.

Implications for the Upcoming Flu Season

The extent to which these altered viruses will increase in the forthcoming season is uncertain. A representative for the CDC stated, “It is critical to keep an eye on the development and transmission of these viruses.

The CDC states that tamiflu is the most often prescribed flu remedy. According to a research last year that was published in the journal Pediatrics, the medication was composed of almost 99.8% of flu antivirus prescribed to kids.

CBS reported that doctors have also turned to Tamiflu to cure humans infected during an ongoing outbreak of bird flu in dairy farms this year.

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