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Ira Longini's video: Flu Resistance

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  • Ira Longini's video: Flu Resistance

    With flu season approaching, experts are worried about an old strain. Researchers at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute don’t expect the old strain of H1N1 to return as a threat. But, they’re concerned about what the current strain of H1N1 might learn from the old one, because of key enzymes both strains share. The older version’s resistant to Tamiflu, a critical anti-viral drug used both to prevent and reduce the severity of influenza.

    Ira Longini/UF biostatistics researcher: “So there’s certainly quite a danger because of the shared N1, the shared neuraminidase, that the new pandemic strain which is spreading and is our new influenza threat right now will also acquire a resistance quite rapidly with time. It’s not a certainty but it’s a distinct possibility. What we’ve done is shown what to look for and how this can happen on a global scale.”

    Researchers say new anti-viral drugs don’t come along everyday, meaning a Tamiflu-resistant strain of influenza could pose a serious problem.

    Ira Longini/UF biostatistics researcher: “Influenza is not treatable by any over-the-counter drugs. You can treat the symptoms, but you can’t treat, prevent or mitigate the virus. In order to do that, you have to have a prescription for either Tamiflu or Relenza, two common antiviral drugs.”

    Anti-virals remain a last defense in controlling the spread and severity of the virus.