WHO to recommend countries stop testing for H1N1

Within the next few days, the WHO "will recommend that countries stop trying to test all suspected cases of swine flu, said Keiji Fukuda, the agency's assistant director-general of health security and environment," Tuesday during a conference call with reporters, Bloomberg reports.

Instead, countries who have previously confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus in their population should diagnose the flu based on symptoms alone, opening up "laboratories to test samples in unusual or severe cases, clusters of illnesses and cases with odd symptoms, he said," Bloomberg writes (Serafino/Hallam, 7/7).

"In countries with no cases, we will continue to recommend that people be tested so the presence of the new virus can be confirmed," Fukuda said. "In all countries, we will continue to stress testing for unusual cases, clusters, unusually severe cases and new symptoms." The Los Angeles Times writes that "the number of swine-flu-free countries is likely to be small soon. The most recent figures reported to the WHO indicate that more than 98,000 cases have been confirmed in 120 countries, with 440 deaths, though officials estimate the number of actual infections at 10 to 100 times that."

Fukuda Addresses Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1

Also, during the conference call, Fukuda addressed several reports of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 over the past two weeks, according to Reuters (MacInnis/ Nebehay, 7/7).

The most recent case of Tamiflu-resistance, occurred in a San Francisco teenager who was diagnosed with H1N1 when she arrived Hong Kong, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (Stannard, 7/8).

The AP/SAPA/Daily News reports: "The other two resistant cases - patients in Denmark and Japan - had been taking Tamiflu as a preventive measure after coming into contact with someone with swine flu. The Californian girl had not taken Tamiflu, meaning she was apparently infected by an already-circulating resistant strain before she travelled to Hong Kong." As a result, "U.S. health officials are stepping up testing of swine flu cases for Tamiflu resistance," according to the news service (7/8).

"The case suggests swine flu … is capable of not only developing drug resistance but also spreading between humans in that resistant form, said Arthur Reingold, professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health," the San Francisco Chronicle writes (7/8).

"At this point we are not recommending any clinical changes to the approach in treating patients," Fukuda said. According to Reuters, all patients confirmed to have Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 have been responsive to the antiviral Relenza and have since recovered from their infection (7/7).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for Kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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