Friday, November 20, 2009
Scientists in Norway announced Friday they had detected a mutated form of the swine flu virus in two patients who died of the flu and a third who was severely ill.
In a statement, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said the mutation “could possibly make the virus more prone to infect deeper in the airways and thus cause more severe disease,” such as pneumonia.
The institute said there was no indication that the mutation would hinder the ability of the vaccine to protect people from becoming infected or impair the effectiveness of antiviral drugs in treating people who became infected.
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Scientists have analyzed about 70 viruses from confirmed Norwegian swine flu cases and found the mutation in only those three patients, Geir Stene-Larsen, the institute’s director general, said in the statement.
“Based on what we know so far, it seems that the mutated virus does not circulate in the population, but might be a result of spontaneous changes which have occurred in these three patients,” the statement said.
A top U.S. health official said the mutation was no reason for alarm. The same mutation has been detected elsewhere in the world, including possibly in the United States, in both severe and mild cases.
This article was posted: Friday, November 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm