New Flu Virus Mutations Impacting Common Medication Especially in Europe

Sun 30th Jun, 2024

Image by Luisella Planeta from PixabayA novel combination of flu virus mutations was initially identified in May 2023 and has since been observed across five continents, predominantly affecting Europe. Recent research highlights the implications of these mutations on widely used flu medications.

Known as NA-I223V and S247N, these double mutants have been circulating since May 2023, albeit at a relatively low frequency of 0.67% among sequenced samples. However, this figure may not accurately reflect their actual prevalence due to varying surveillance and sequencing methodologies across different countries.

These mutations specifically affect the effectiveness of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), resulting in a notable 13-fold reduction in inhibition capability, as indicated by the study findings. Researchers emphasize the necessity of closely monitoring the evolution of these double mutants, cautioning that further changes could exacerbate resistance to antiviral drugs or confer advantages over wild-type viruses.

In a reassuring note, these virus mutations do not affect the efficacy of other medications. Separately, research on painkillers has explored optimal lying positions to enhance medication absorption.

The clinical significance of this resistance remains unclear. Dr. Andy Pekosz, a virologist from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, emphasized the importance of early detection: "Identifying these mutations promptly is crucial as it could significantly impact flu treatment." Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, echoed this sentiment, acknowledging uncertainties regarding the clinical implications of this mild resistance but suggesting current Tamiflu dosages might still suffice.

As of now, the double mutation has not been detected in Germany. NA-I223V and S247N have been identified in a total of 15 countries, primarily across Europe including the Netherlands, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Great Britain.

Meanwhile, discussions on other diseases are ongoing. Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquito bites, remains a significant concern, while Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is rapidly spreading in Japan, drawing considerable attention.

Image by Luisella Planeta from Pixabay


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