"Hong Kong - Scientists have found that a strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus circulating in Thailand is resistant to the flu drug amantadine, and they called for rigorous study of H5N1 strains to better treat human victims.
While the World Health Organisation has long recommended that Tamiflu be used as the first line of defence against H5N1, it said last May that a "dual therapy" combining amantadine and Tamiflu may be considered in case of an outbreak.
Yong Poovorawan, a medical professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said an H5N1 strain in the central part of Thailand had become resistant to amantadine, casting more doubt over its use to fight the disease.
"It would be very dangerous if we don't know the sensitivity or resistance of the strain to amantadine and we use amantadine (to treat people infected with this strain of H5N1)," Yong said.
He urged more rigorous surveillance and study.
Yong and his researchers came to the latest conclusion after studying the molecular structure of the strain, which has been circulating in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam since 2004.
"We need to conduct in vitro experiments," he said, referring to experiments in a laboratory or other controlled settings.
However, he could not say how effective a dual Tamiflu-amantadine therapy may be as Thailand has not tried administering such a treatment.
Their findings were published in the March issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
There are two H5N1 strains circulating in Thailand, one in the northeast and the other in the central part of the country.
Yong identified the strain in the northeast province of Nakhon Phanom as the Fujian-like strain, which an international group of virologists said in October may start another wave of H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in Southeast Asia and Eurasia.
The Fujian-like strain was first isolated in China's southern Fujian province in 2005."
But the Chinese government says that the Fujian-type strain doesn't exist! How could independent Thai scientists isolate it and study it? And here I was thinking China was a completely honest and open partner in the fight against H5N1...
Too bad the WHO doesn't have access to the nasty bastard thats raging in Indonesia, which in all accounts appears to be Tamiflu-resistant.
Pro-tip: Amantadine is the chemical name of the antiviral drug Symmetrel.