Influenza virus strains are becoming increasingly resistant to the treatments used to keep them at bay. According to two new studies published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the number of H1N1 influenza virus strains resistant to both classes of medications is on the rise.
Two classes of medications are used to treat the influenza virus – the neuraminidase inhibitors and the adamantanes. Resistance to both classes of drugs has been rare in the past, but the number of H1N1 influenza viruses with dual resistance is increasing. If the numbers continue to rise, it will become more difficult to treat people with active H1N1 influenza – and, possibly, seasonal influenza as well.
It’s not uncommon for an influenza virus to be resistant to one of the two classes of anti-viral medications. Dual resistance can develop when the virus mutates or exchanges genetic information with another virus. When this happens, treating the influenza virus becomes impossible with the currently available drugs.
The growing problem of drug resistance among influenza virus strains means new medications will be needed in the future to combat drug-resistant influenza viruses. Even when new drugs are brought to market, it’s only a matter of time before the viruses mutate or acquire genetic information that makes them resistant. It could be an ongoing challenge to come up with new drugs that use novel pathways to kill strains of influenza virus that are resistant to conventional treatments.
What does this mean? The current classes of anti-viral medications may not treat your case of H1N1 or seasonal influenza, especially if this trend continues. Influenza can have life-threatening complications, and the window period for treating it is short even when it’s susceptible to the current anti-viral medications. It must be treated within 48 hours after the symptoms begin to shorten the course of the illness and prevent complications.
The solution? Consider getting vaccinated, and take precautions to avoid exposure to the influenza virus. Wash your hands, eat a healthy diet and get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Drink white tea instead of soft drinks, since white tea has anti-viral benefits according to some studies. Elderberry tea is another tea with anti-viral properties Take steps to protect yourself against the flu virus this year – so you won’t need medications.
Eurekalert.org. “Influenza Strains Show Increasing Drug Resistance and Ability to Spread”