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Resistant flu more common than thought

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TOKYO, Aug 26, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Resistance to the widely-used influenza drug oseltamivir may be more common than previously thought, Japanese researchers report.

University of Tokyo researchers investigated oseltamivir resistance in a group of children treated for the flu.

Part of the class of medications called neuraminidase inhibitors, the drug effectively treats the flu by blocking an enzyme that usually allows the flu virus to escape and infect other cells.

The researchers collected influenza A viruses from 50 Japanese children before and during treatment with oseltamivir. They found neuraminidase mutations in viruses from nine patients. Resistant viruses first were detected four days after start of treatment and on each successive day of the study.

The findings, published in the British journal The Lancet, show children can transmit the virus even after five days of treatment. The researchers said they studied children because they are more susceptible to the flu than adults, so they are thought to provide a better model of the flu's effects on the general population.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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