CDC Warns of “Dual Mutant” H1N1 Flu Strains Detected Across the US

CDC Warns of "Dual Mutant" H1N1 Flu

United States: Flu still remains a concerning health issue for the health experts of the United States, who have been continuously asking the general public to stay cautious and follow hygiene practices. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined that “dual mutant” strains linked to H1N1 influenza have been detected among at least two human cases across the US.

In addition to this, the health agency mentioned that detected cases are linked with genetic changes that may reduce the effectiveness of the primary flu antiviral medication hospitals depend on.

The two concerning mutations:

The scientist have named the two concerning mutation as I223V and S247N and they have been analysing the both very carefully. They have underlined that the major change is seen in the key surface proteins of the virus. The above mentioned details have been published in this CDC’s Emerging Infectious Disease journal – during this week’s edition.

Reportedly, it is to noted that the research have been conducted after a report was presented by the scientists from Hong Kong – who were the first one to test the mutations. According to the initial report, their laboratory experiments, which were published in March, indicated that the two mutations could increase the resistance of H1N1 to Oseltamivir, a flu treatment commonly marketed as Tamiflu by Roche.

The extent to which these mutations might reduce Oseltamivir’s effectiveness in real-world scenarios remains uncertain. According to the laboratory tests, the mutated viruses showed sensitivity to the antiviral up to 16 times lower, which represents a smaller decrease compared to previous mutations that raised concerns.

While addressing the situation, an anonymous spokesperson for CDC mentioned, “These mutated viruses retained sensitivity to other anti-influenza medications, including a newer one, baloxavir marboxil. There are no immediate implications to change decisions for clinical care.” The statement was passed by the health expert through an email.

Additionally, the expert highlighted that it is observed that these new viruses with mutations can be cured with the help of flu vaccines.

Global upsurge of the cases

It is to be noted that the CDC’s report has mentioned that new ‘dual mutant’ flu strains appear to be rare for now, despite the fact that the “rapid spread of dual mutants to countries on different continents.”

At first, the mutation linked variant was seen in a Canadian province of British Columbia in May 2023. As per the official report, as many as 101 sequences of the virus have been recorded by the global virus database GISAID from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. At that time, this total made up less than 1% of flu virus sequences.

In this matter, the researchers were quoted saying, “However, those data may not necessarily represent the actual proportion of what was in circulation because of differences in surveillance and sequencing strategies in each country.”

Two concerning cases in the US

The official updates have outlined that the two suspected cases were reported at two US labs, which were Connecticut Department of Health and University of Michigan this past fall and winter.

While outlining the matter, the CDC spokesperson further said, “It is unknown how widely these mutated viruses will circulate in the upcoming season. It is important to continue monitoring the spread of these viruses and the evolution of these viruses.”

Which antiviral should be prescribed?

CDC have outlined that the commonly prescribed treatment for flu is Oseltamivir. As per a study published last year, the drug was prescribed to 99.8 percent of the infected kids. The CDC has been vigilantly monitoring possible mutations in the flu virus that could result in resistance to Oseltamivir.

After monitoring the current situation, the Centers for Disease has asked the doctors and medical practitioners to prescribe the medical to the flu patients who are hospitalized and are severely infected from the disease as soon as possible. In addition to this, doctors have also been asked to prescribe Oseltamivir to treat humans who have been infected by the H5N1 virus.

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