Friday, January 14, 2011

Influenza strains increasing resistance

The CDC stated on their website last week that of the type A influenza flu strains they have subtyped this flu season, 52% do not match what is in this year's batch of flu vaccine. Does one look at this as the glass half full or empty?

In addition, two new studies raise public health concerns about increasing antiviral resistance among certain influenza viruses and their ability to spread. The findings were published in the January 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Influenza viruses are treated with two classes of drugs: M2 blockers (adamantanes) and neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs), including oseltamivir and zanamivir.

While the spread of influenza strains with resistance to one class of drugs has been well documented in recent years, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirms that dual resistance can emerge in several ways and has been on the rise during the past three years. The study revealed that additional antiviral resistance could rapidly develop in a previously single-resistant strain as a result of mutation, drug response, or gene exchange with another virus. Dual resistant viruses increased in number from 0.06 percent (2007-2008) to 1.5 percent (2008-2009) to 28 percent (2009-2010). If circulation of viruses with dual resistance becomes more widespread among any of the predominant circulating influenza A viruses, treatment options will be extremely limited.

The second study examined an outbreak of oseltamivir resistant (OR) pandemic H1N1 infection in a small group of hematological patients. The study is the first to confirm person-to-person transmission of the dually resistant strain. The 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus was inherently resistant to adamantine, but was susceptible to and treated with oseltamivir. However, by October 2009, emergence of OR H1N1 had been documented in rare patients on oseltamivir therapy. Eight of the 11 pandemic H1N1 virus infections were resistant to oseltamivir. Immunocompromised patients were more susceptible to the emergence of OR H1N1 virus on treatment and also transmitted the virus to others, despite often having no influenza symptoms or having completed antiviral therapy.

The researchers in both studies agreed that creative, preventive, and therapeutic choices will be required as unpredictable and antiviral-resistant influenza viruses continue to appear.

Bonnie and Steve - this is scary stuff folks. In one year, an H1N1 strain can increase its resistance to a drug over twenty-fold? The same reason a virus can mutate so rapidly is why the WHO and CDC have such trouble choosing what flu strains to add to each year's batch of flu vaccine. They are always playing catch-up.

Let's face facts; viruses rule the earth and we are just walking, talking viral and micrrobial vats. As hosts, we must strive to create the healthiest and most harmonious environments for these organisms. We host millions of viruses and bacteria.
The microscopic marauders you read about in the press like e. Coli, staph, and clostridium difficile? They all live inside us. 99.99% of the time they act harmoniously. However, there is that .01% of the time where they cause illness. In these instances, outside influences are almost always to blame.

Researchers are now discovering that "nuking the entire area," be it with antibiotics or other strong gut-eviscerating medication, is not always the best idea. Besides the obvious issue, antibiotic resistance, it can take up to four years to recover normal gut ecology after one round of antibiotics (especially if you do not accompany the antibiotics with probiotics).

So how do we make peace with our beloved viruses and bacteria?
  • Basic hygiene - not overkill, but to keep them from overpopulating from the outside (entering via mouth, fingers, ears, eyes, nose).
  • Eating a wide variety of foods, especially locally grown produce that contains billions of local microbes.
  • Doing everything possible to maintain a healthy host (optimal mind and body).
  • Probiotics are microrgansims, but beneficial in the sense that they help balance out marauding bacteria.
  • Natural antiviral/antimicrobial substances that have harmoniously kept in check viral and bacterial overzealousness for millenia (lauric acid esters from coconut; grapefruit seed extract for example).
  • Natural substances (vitamins, minerals, plant extract, spices) that have worked to harmoniously boost the host's immune system in times of viral or microbial proliferation.
  • If these paradigms are not sufficient and the host is continually attacked by its own as well as outside microscopy, then allopathic methods should most definitely be considered.

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