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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, mutated virus.

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 AG’s 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.


Reference Sources: aftonbladet.se sbs.com.au
bloomberg.com
rian.ru nytimes.com washingtonpost.com
November 21, 2009

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