- The drug will end up in waterways.
- Bird viruses have been quite a cause of consternation
in the medical fraternity and the governments across the world lost their
sleep over the pandemic-like situations. Reported the New Scientist "in
flu pandemic, millions of people are expected to take the antiviral drug
Tamiflu, but new research shows that ultimately much of the drug will pass
through the people taking it and end up in waterways. Chances are it will
then linger long enough to promote Tamiflu-resistant flu viruses in wild
- This is even alarming. The report goes, "as a vaccine
tailored to the particular pandemic flu strain is unlikely to be widely
available in the early days of an outbreak, emergency plans specify that
sick people and, in some cases, people who have been exposed to the virus
should be treated with Tamiflu."
- A dozen countries have stockpiled more than three billion
capsules of the drug. Andrew Singer and colleagues at the Centre for Ecology
and Hydrology in Oxford, UK, estimated how much of this could potentially
be flushed into lakes and rivers, it is reported.
- It is said that the team used detailed sewage runoff
models of 16 river catchment areas in the US and UK, and also a model of
the expected number of cases of flu per day in a pandemic.
- The scientific journal, whose views are taken seriously
by the medical fraternity says that the previous studies have shown that
Tamiflu is unusually resistant to being broken down in the body about
80% of it is excreted in its active form. The drug also dissolves readily
in water, and is not broken down in sewage sludge or by common chemical
reactions in nature.
- Putting all this together, the researchers found that
all the UK catchments, and most in the US, developed high enough concentrations
of the drug to stop a flu virus from replicating, for weeks or months,
- Avian flu viruses normally live in the guts of birds.
In ducks that drink Tamiflu-contaminated water, the drug concentration
that the team predicted would prevent susceptible viruses from replicating,
giving drug-resistant viruses a selective advantage, the New Scientist
- Such viruses may not make much difference to ducks. But
flu viruses regularly swap genes, so Tamiflu resistance could end up spreading
to human strains of flu, they warn.
- "We recommend more research to study how Tamiflu
behaves in water, and to determine cheap and easy ways to break it down
before it reaches the river," says Singer, who led the research, as
reported. The team suggests that perhaps some chemical that destroys Tamiflu
might be put down the toilet by people taking the drug, the report observes.
- Norma Dsouza is a Health and Fitness Consultant. For
more details on Tamiflu, Flu and other flu medications please visit: http://www.checkflu.com