It is reported that 5 patients in Cardiff’s University Hospital have become infected with a Tamiflu resistant strain of swine flu. This is only the second time that a resistant strain has passed from person to person. The first time was in a summer camp in the US (which has yet to be properly confirmed). There are approximately 60 known cases of the swine flu mutating into a resistant strain worldwide.
It seems that the five patients in Wales all have serious underlying problems. These problems weaken the patients’ immune systems, which in turn gives the swine flu virus more time and therefore an increased chance of developing resistance. This resistant virus would normally be isolated to the patient in which it developed. But now there are indications that this particular strain can be spread from person to person.
The NHS will continue to offer Tamiflu to all infected people to ensure that flu duration remains as short as possible and also ease the symptoms. This will be also be crucial in reducing the chances of the flu mutating.
The H1N1 virus has so far killed over 200 people in the UK, 14 of them in Wales, but many people have developed it and recovered without being tested. Out of the five in the Cardiff hospital, two have recovered and been allowed home, two are in isolation and one is still in intensive care.
Relenza or Zanamirvir can also be used to combat swine flu and these are expected to remain effective.
The most comforting things are that, mutation is very rare, and even after mutation the flu virus is reported to remain at the same level of severity as the original virus. It just means that there are fewer drugs to help quickly get rid of that particular resistant strain and ease the effects.
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