The Golden Thread

" Changes in the H1N1 virus must be taken very seriously"
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Author:  Siam [ Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  " Changes in the H1N1 virus must be taken very seriously"


"These changes in the H1N1 virus must be taken very seriously"

LEMONDE.FR | 27.11.09 | 20h58 • Mis à jour le 28.11.09 | 07h58 LEMONDE.FR | 27.11.09 | 20h58 • Updated 28.11.09 | 07h58 ... 25408.html

The death of two French patients carrying a mutation in the influenza virus A (H1N1), similar to that observed in Norway, is "very worrying" news for Professor Jean-Philippe Derenne. The former chief of pulmonology at the Hospital de la Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris, co-author of Pandemic: The greatest threat, says influenza pandemics are "unpredictable".

Should we be alarmed at the recent mutation of the H1N1 virus that caused the deaths of two French patients?

There were two mutations in the H1N1 virus, which must be taken very seriously. The first hit parts of the genome that allow the virus to enter the lungs and cause fatal lung damage. The second occurred for one of two patients, gave the virus resistant to Tamiflu. The fact that these mutations occur in two different cities, and they prove to be similar to those observed in Norway, to concerns that they become more numerous. That is very worrying.

In general, influenza pandemics are unpredictable. They never come when they are expected or where we expect and in ways different from those expected. It is necessary to follow the evolution of things, including serious forms of flu, with the greatest attention.

How has the virus mutated?

A virus is a parasite which, to reproduce, must get inside cells. The enzyme that copies regularly makes errors, so one observes regular small mutations of the virus, which explains why the flu vaccine changes every year.

But in the case of two mutations observed this week, the new virus was a genetic type never seen before. It would come from two viruses circulating in pigs from ten to twenty years in North America and Eurasia. We do not know about the conditions of the appearance of these changes ...

The effectiveness of vaccination, is it affected?

No, because the flu vaccine is directed against surface proteins of the virus that they have not mutated in contrast to the genome. The vaccine can still prevent the virus from entering body cells to reproduce. These new changes should instead encourage all French to go to be vaccinated with adjuvant.

Interview by Audrey Garric

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