The UK’s HPA (Health Protection Agency) has voiced concerns over a new drug resistant strain of swine flu.
The H1N1 or swine flu virus is usually treated with Tamiflu (oseltamivir) however this new strain of the virus renders the drug “powerless”.
This new strain of the swine flu virus H1N1pdm09 has been rarely seen outside of hospitals, however an increasing number of cases have been identified in what the HPA describes as the “community setting”. Officially the HPA have recorded eight confirmed cases however reports have shown that an increasing number of cases has been seen across the globe.
Dr Richard Pebody, Head of flu surveillance at the HPA said: “While the frequency of oseltamivir resistance in community settings has increased slightly since the 2009-10 pandemic from 1-2% in the 2012/13 flu season, rates of detection remain low.”
A report by Australian researchers has warned that this new strain has the capability to cause another global outbreak. Speaking at a meeting on major infectious diseases they warned that this new strain was “fitter” than other drug resistant strains and there was a high possibility that the strain could be at the centre of another outbreak to rival that of the one seen in 2008 / 2009. This last outbreak of swine flu is thought to have killed in access of 200,000 people globally.
Lead investigator Dr Aeron Hurt, from the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, said: “The greatest concern is that these resistant viruses could spread globally, similar to that seen in 2008 when the former seasonal H1N1 virus developed oseltamivir resistance and spread worldwide in less than 12 months.”