Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 4:22 PM ET Comments0Recommend1
A 60-year-old Quebec man is one of a handful of people around the world to catch a strain of swine flu that is resistant to drugs.
Health officials said the man likely contracted the virus from his son and did not require hospital treatment.
Canada's lead researchers are trying to find out more about what this means for the effectiveness of millions of doses of stockpiled antiviral drugs.
Dr. Guy Boivin, Canada Research Chair on emerging viruses and antiviral resistance in Quebec City, said Tuesday the new strains of drug-resistant swine flu raise a red flag but should not scare anyone.
“We know the exact, specific mutation, and this is a mutation that has been reported before in human viruses that were resistant to Tamiflu, so it's not totally unexpected,” said Boivin.
Boivin said he suspects the Quebec father was already infected when he was given a low preventive dose of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. Boivin suspected the father’s virus adapted to the drug at that point, becoming resistant.
Never in hospital
Boivin said the good news is that the father recovered well and was never taken to hospital. He said the next step is to find out how quickly the drug-resistant strain reproduces, and whether it's more potent and dangerous.
“We are using a lot of Tamiflu since [the] beginning of the pandemic, so using more antivirals probably means there is more chance of developing resistances,” Boivin said.
He said he'd also like to see a greater variety of antiviral drugs on the market, in case more people develop or contract a drug-resistant swine flu.
There are only two antiviral drugs currently available, and Tamiflu makes up 80 per cent of the 50 million doses reserved for Canadians.