PAHO on Monday announced it had found Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 (swine) flu along the Texas-Mexico border, Agence-France Press reports. The discovery of several cases in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, adds the U.S. to a growing list of countries with antiviral-resistant H1N1, such as Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong and Japan. "Experts had gathered in La Jolla on Monday to discuss the response to the outbreak, and warned that resistant strains were likely emerging because of overuse of antivirals like Tamiflu," the news service writes (8/3).
"Roche, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, has said it expects a 0.5 percent rate of case resistance based on clinical trials," according to a separate AFP report. Maria Teresa Cerqueira, head of the PAHO office in La Jolla, California, "said one patient diagnosed with a Tamiflu-resistant strain had been treated with Zanamivir -- an anti-viral made by GlaxoSmithKline -- and another was given no alternative medication. Both survived" (8/3).
Pneumonia Vaccine Could Offer Protection Against Complications From H1N1, Some Health Experts Argue
The Los Angeles Times examines the possibility of using the vaccine, Pneumovax, to help prevent or limit the severity of pneumonia, one of the serious complications of the H1N1 virus. "The vaccine, made by Merck & Co., stimulates the body's ability to neutralize the bacteria responsible for many cases of pneumonia, and it has the potential to prevent an estimated one-third of pneumonia deaths linked to swine flu," the newspaper writes. However, according to William Schaffner, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, recommendations to use the vaccine "have apparently slipped by largely unnoticed."
"Unfortunately, I think too much emphasis has been placed on inappropriate administration of [the antiviral drug] Tamiflu, which has its own side effects and, aside from that, may create resistance," Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist in New York, said. The article includes comments from researchers more skeptical of Pneumovax's ability to prevent complications from H1N1 (Maugh, 8/4).
South Africa , India Register First H1N1 Flu Deaths
South African health officials on Monday confirmed the country's first death from H1N1, the Associated Press reports. According to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the victim, a 22-year-old male college student who was treated in a private hospital, died July 28, after being sick for one week (8/3).
The Indian media on Monday also reported that a 14-year-old girl had become the country's first H1N1 flu death, the AFP reports. "No one at the state or city health department was immediately available to comment when contacted by AFP but the domestic Press Trust of India news agency said the student had been given the anti-viral drug Oseltamivir," the news service reports. "She failed to respond to treatment and died on Monday evening after suffering multiple organ failure, an unnamed senior health ministry official was quoted as saying" (8/3).