Global’s H1N1 Update – 06/22/10

The next update will be on Tuesday, June 24th, at 0830 hrs PST.

The WHO Pandemic Alert level remains at Phase 6

Influenza A (H1N1) Cases and Deaths*

*Cases reported by The World Health Organization (WHO) are as of June 13, 2010

International News

H1N1 reassortment in pigs could become a significant threat

Back in February, Chinese researchers recorded the first instance of H1N1 encountering another virus within a host, intermixing and then emerging as something new; this process is known as reassortment. While novel, Chinese officials stated that the new virus strain did not present a public health risk, and to-date the hybrid has not been found in humans. After months of study, these scientists have found that the new strain is too distinctive to cross-react with antibodies triggered by pandemic H1N1 or its vaccines. They also found that pandemic H1N1 reassorts easily with other viruses, noting during their study that H5N1 and H9N2 –both dangerous pandemic candidates– were also found in the pigs. This process could generate other flu viruses with the ability to be much more virulent than existing strains.

As a result, the study calls for much higher levels of surveillance for swine populations, something that, ironically, has dropped since the pandemic outbreak. Pig and poultry farmers have learned that finding viruses in their livestock can produce costly results. However, the report says phylogenetic studies suggest that the pandemics of 1918, 1957, and 1968 all evolved in another mammalian host for years before surfacing in humans. The inference is that the relatively mild 2009 outbreak could only be the prelude to a much longer pandemic. CTV News

Fake, mail-order Tamiflu uncovered

The American Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against a product available online as “Generic Tamiflu”. There is no such thing. The FDA purchased a package of the drug for testing, and found that it contained no oseltamivir, the active ingredient in Tamiflu. Instead what they discovered were capsules containing cloxacillin; an antibiotic similar to penicillin. Those with allergies to penicillin are at risk of similar, potentially life-threatening reactions when taking cloxacillin. While the website where the FDA purchased its “Generic Tamiflu” is no longer operating, the agency warns that the fraudulent drug is likely to crop up on other sites claiming to be online drug stores. United States FDA

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