Feeds

WHO issues bird flu warning, warns on Tamiflu research

Virulence and resistance discussed

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The World Health Organisation has warned that there is no guarantee that a pandemic strain of the H5N1 virus will be less deadly to people. The report, published this week, contains the findings of a meeting of flu experts held last month.

The method of change will determine how deadly the virus is, the report says. If the virus changes by exchanging genes with a human flu virus, a process called reassortment, a pandemic might not be too deadly. However, straightforward adaptive mutation would leave the virulence of the disease unchanged, the scientists warned.

It also cautioned against regarding the anti-viral drug Tamiflu as a magic bullet, highlighting that some H5N1 viruses seem to already be naturally resistant to the effects of the drug.

The report comes less than two weeks after the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in the UK issued a warning about the possible environmental effects of large scale use of Tamiflu.

Dr Andrew Singer of the CEH said: "An antiviral drug has never been widely used before, so we need to determine what might happen. During a flu pandemic, millions of people will all take Tamiflu at the same time. Over just eight or nine weeks, massive amounts of the drug will be expelled in sewage and find its way into the rivers. It could have huge effects on the fish and other wildlife."

A build up of the drug in rivers could cause the avian version of the virus to become resistant to it, which could lead to a new, resistant strain emerging in humans, Singer argues.

He is calling for research into ways to safely break the anti-viral down once it is in the sewage system but before it reaches the public waterways. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.