Mutated Virus Now Confirmed And
Infecting Norway and Eastern Europe
The World Health Organization has stated that the H1N1 flu appears
to have peaked in several countries around world, but it was moving
rapidly east and north while a confirmed mutation is now threatening
Norway and Eastern Europe.
Norway reported finding a mutated virus in three people who died
or were severely ill. The mutation allowed the virus to grow deeper
in the lungs.
The mutation (called D222G) allows the virus to bind to receptors
on cells lining the lungs, which are slightly different from those
in the nose and throat.
Virologist Dmitri Tarasov stated "it is likely the exact
same strain seen in fatal cases in the Ukraine, which means we
can expect a similar case fatality rate in Norway, unless its
replication rate has increased."
Tarasov suggested that the number of Ukraine fatalities have been
grossly miscalculated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
"The number of deaths simply do not correlate statistically
with the infection rates observed."
The pneumonic plague observed in the Ukraine was quoted by some
experts as being a new
strain of flu many times more lethal than H1N1.
A recent calculation presented possible
scenarios if the same mutated virus found in the Ukraine were
to spread to Norway and other countries.
Norway has been more affected by the new influenza A/H1N1 than
Sweden and so far 23 people have died from the impact of the virus
and at least 700,000 have fallen ill.
The Norwegian institute of health (FHI) is monitoring the situation
closely and have done extensive testing of the virus from both
diseased and deceased patients.
At a press conference, FHI revealed that Norway seems to have
suffered a more aggressive virus than many other countries.
The WHO confirmed a mutation had been found in samples of the
swine flu virus taken following the first two deaths from the
pandemic in Norway.
The WHO revealed that a similar mutation had been observed in
Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United States as
early as April, but underlined that there was no evidence of more
infections or more deaths as a result.
The mutant virus causes a mild illness in most, but can be serious
for others. This variant can reach further into the lungs than
the original version, "said Director Geir Stene-Larsen on
the National Public Health Institute in a press conference.
The same variant of swine influenza virus detected in Norway
has also been found in Sweden, in both seriously ill, mildly ill
and in people who are not sick at all. But neither the Swedish
Institute of Infectious Disease Control (SMI) or the WHO are stating
that the circulating strains are more aggressive.
"Regardless of what the WHO says, even though they [Norway]
are less densely populated, this is likely the same aggresive
strain and we can still expect a reasonable amount of deaths after
a few weeks," said Tarasov.
The Norwegian Health Organization says there are no indications
that more will be affected by the mutated H1N1 virus and that
the vaccine and Tamiflu will work the same way against the new,
Tarasov stated that FHI's knowledge on vaccines is limited. "It
is quite a statement to suggest that antivirals and vaccines will
work the same for mutated viruses which they have not been designed
for....[it is] a limitation on the scope of how vaccines work."
The U.K. Health Protection Agency is investigating a number of
cases of possible swine flu infections which are resistent to
treatment with Roche Holding AGs Tamiflu drug.
The cases have been reported among nine patients in a hospital
in Wales. Five cases are known to be resistent to oseltamivir,
the generic name for Tamiflu, the HPA said in an e-mailed statement.
Some infectious disease experts believe that this mutated viral
strain may continue replicating as it moves throughout the world,
rendering any pandemic vaccines ineffective and obsolete.
A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.