Mutated strain of H1N1 virus detected in US and Norway

Friday, November 20, 2009

Health officials in both the United States and Norway have confirmed the presence of a mutated strain of the H1N1, swine flu virus in several patients in the countries. The mutation is resistant to current treatments for H1N1 such as tamiflu, oseltamivir and zanamivir.

At least three patients in Norway were confirmed to have the mutated strain of H1N1, with two of the cases being fatal. Health officials say the three cases are not related and isolated from one another.

At least four new cases of the mutation were detected in patients at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Three of the four cases were fatal, but the same patients also had severe underlying illnesses before they caught influenza. Two prior cases of the mutation in the same state, were reported in the Summer of 2008. Health officials say none of the cases are related.

Director of the Center for Disease Control's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Anne Schuchat says the cases are appearing in the U.S. "sporadically."

"It's just too soon for us to say what this is going to mean long term. It's an important finding for the influenza virologists, and they're looking into it. [The mutation] has no implications for how good the match of the vaccine is and no implications for treatment with antiviral medicine," said Schuchat during a press conference.

Health officials in other countries such as Mexico, China, Japan, Ukraine and Brazil, also report cases of the mutation.