New studies about flu, shots

March 2, 2009 3:28:21 PM PST
It may be March, but the flu season is still with us. Now, there is word from government health officials about the workings of two flu fighters. One of them is a medication to fight the flu. The other is one of the vaccines.

We've just entered March and we won't know when the flu will peak until after the season. In some years, it peaks in March. On Monday, the CDC released a report about how the drug Tamiflu is losing power against the flu bugs.

In their analysis of flu samples, researchers at the CDC noticed how one kind of flu bug, influenza A, also called H1N1, has become resistant to a commonly prescribed drug, oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu.

Before last year, only about 1 percent of cases examined were resistant to the drug.

"Last year, about 12 percent of in the influenza H1N1 viruses were resistant to oseltamivir," said Dr. Alicia M. Fry, of the CDC. "And this season it looks, like approximately 98 percent, almost 100 percent, of those viruses are resistant to oseltamivir."

The researchers compared patients who had flu caused by the resistant influenza bug to patients who had types that are are not susceptible to the drug.

There are still two flu types that can still be wiped out by Tamiflu, however.

"There's three different types or subtypes of influenza viruses, and the oseltamivir-resistance is only detected in one of those subtypes," Dr. Fry said. "The other two types are actually susceptible to oseltamivir.

The experts say vaccination is still the only defense against type A bugs and the other two strains as well.

Another reports focuses on the nasal vaccine, which uses a live attenuated virus. It's very effective when used in children and adolescents.

The new report, however, says adults may get less protection from the nasal vaccine than from the standard, which uses a dead virus.

The results are similar to previous findings, which found that conventional flu shots are more effective in adults.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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