Australia Announces First Tamiflu Resistant Flu Case

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WA Health has confirmed the first Australian case of human swine flu which is resistant to the main antiviral drug Tamiflu.

The 38-year-old Perth man, who has a weakened immune system, initially responded to the drug but developed a resistant strain of the virus when his illness relapsed.

Chief Health Officer Dr Tarun Weeramanthri said this was a rare and isolated case and did not pose a risk to the public.

“There is no evidence that the virus has spread to other people - none of the patient’s family or hospital staff caring for him have contracted the virus, and he has not been in contact with the wider community,” he said.

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“Experience from overseas shows us that these cases tend to be confined to individual patients and it is not uncommon for it to occur in people who have weakened immune systems.”

There have been 13 cases of Tamiflu-resistant infections reported around the world.

Dr Weeramanthri said the man had been treated with an alternative antiviral drug that was active against the resistant virus and was no longer infectious. However, he remains in a critical condition in intensive care.

“We know that swine flu can be very serious in some individuals, particularly in those with underlying medical conditions,” he said.

“When it becomes available, the human swine flu vaccine will offer the best protection against the virus and I would encourage people to seriously consider getting vaccinated.”

The first people to be offered the vaccine will be pregnant women in their second and third trimester, those with underlying medical conditions including morbid obesity, Aboriginal people, children in special schools and frontline healthcare workers.

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