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Published on 3 March 2009

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Hospital flu “superbug” warning

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Another drug-resistant hospital “superbug”, this time a virulent strain of flu, has been identified by doctors in the Netherlands.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they fear that H1N1 “A” may pose a serious threat to hospital patients with weakened immune systems.

It is a strain that causes common seasonal flu outbreaks, and which has now mutated to make it resistant to the anti-viral drug oseltamivir, marketed as Tamiflu.

The Dutch group led by Dr Jairo Gooskens, from Leiden University Medical Centre, identified four patients who were most likely to have been infected in hospital.

Three developed pneumonia and two died. Five healthcare workers also developed symptoms, although it was not possible to determine whether they had contracted the virus.

The authors write: “The study confirmed that circulating H274Y-mutated A (H1N1) viruses can retain significant pathogenicity and lethality… underling the urgency for the introduction of new and effective antiviral agents and therapeutic strategies.”

A US team led by Dr Nila Dharan, from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, found that 12% of influenza A (H1N1) viruses tested during the 2007/08 flu season were resistant to Tamiflu.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Journal of the American Medical Association



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