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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tamiflu Resistance among some Influenza Flu Virus Samples in Europe

A European survey has issued preliminary results which show flu virus resistance to oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Some samples of the A (H1N1) virus, a human flu virus which is spreading in Europe this winter, is resistant to Tamiflu, a well-known antiviral drug.

The EU-funded VIRGIL network has tested 437 samples of the A (H1N1) flu virus strain between November 2007 and January 2008 in 18 European countries - of which 59 from nine different countries have become resistant to oseltamivir, 26 of them from Norway out of 37 that were sent for testing (in Norway).

Norwegian authorities, as soon as this high level of resistance to oseltamivir in the A H1N1 viruses became evident, notified other EU nations as well as the WHO (World Health Organization). An advisory to doctors and the general public has been issued by Norwegian authorities (advisory in Norwegian).

The significance of this latest data from the VIRGIL network is being assessed by experts from ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control), the European Commission, and WHO. Authorities say an interim joint-assessment will be issued soon, based on the preliminary results.

It is not possible at this stage to be precise as to how widespread and at what level influenza virus resistance to Tamiflu is in Europe. Experts suggest that resistant is significant throughout the continent, but perhaps not as high as it is in Norway.

Patients who become infected with the A (H1N1) flu virus strain do not seem to become sicker than those infected with "normal" seasonal influenza, the ECDC reports. Nevertheless, one should bear in mind that influenza A can be a serious and life-threatening illness for the elderly, the very young, and for those with debilitating illnesses.

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