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Tamiflu-resistant swine flu hits five patients at British hospital
11-21-2009, 03:36 PM,
Tamiflu-resistant swine flu hits five patients at British hospital
Quote:A strain of swine flu resistant to Tamiflu has spread between patients in a British hospital.

Five patients on a unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff were diagnosed with swine flu resistant to the drug.

The infection is believed to be the first confirmed case of a person-to-person transmission of a resistant strain in the world.

It appears to have been passed to three patients while they were in hospital. They caught it from two patients who developed flu symptoms after being admitted for other conditions.

They were given Tamiflu but became resistant to it, and the strain was then passed on to neighbouring patients in the same ward, the National Public Health Service for Wales said.

In all those affected, their immune systems were not working properly and they had severe underlying health problems.

Two have recovered and been discharged, one is in critical care and two are being treated with other antivirals.

The service said the resistant strain does not appear to be more severe than the swine flu virus circulating since the spring.

Four more patients in the same unit have swine flu but it is not yet known if it is a Tamiflu-resistant infection.

Altogether 57 cases of Tamiflu resistance have been reported worldwide. The Tamiflu drug reduces the length and severity of flu symptoms if taken early enough, slowing down the speed at which the virus replicates in the body.

Overall, it cuts the time spent suffering from symptoms by a day and it may reduce complications like pneumonia.

A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said: ‘Tamiflu resistance to influenza viruses is well documented in immuno-suppressed individuals and can develop quickly.

‘In addition, immuno-suppressed people may be more susceptible to infection – a smaller exposure may result in infection in these patients.’

Dr Roland Salmon, director of the NPHS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: ‘The emergence of influenza A viruses that are resistant to Tamiflu is not unexpected in patients with serious underlying conditions and suppressed immune systems. For the majority of people, Tamiflu has proved effective in reducing the severity of illness.’

The news comes a day after it was announced that more than three million healthy children under five are to be offered a swine flu jab.

Figures yesterday showed an estimated 53,000 new cases of swine flu in England in the last week, down from 64,000 in the week before. In total, there have been 214 deaths from swine flu in the UK.
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