Officials investigate new flu strain

March 28, 2011 5:40:57 PM PDT
Despite a decline in flu cases in North Carolina, state and federal health officials are investigating a new strain of the influenza virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has conducted lab tests and determined that Tamiflu, the influenza antiviral drug, has slightly less effect on the new virus. Scientists say the reason appears to be a genetic change in the virus that has not been seen in samples from other states.

"These particular viruses are less sensitive to the drug in the lab, but they are not resistant," said Dr. Zack Moore of the N.C. Division of Public Health. "We want to assure physicians and their patients that antiviral drugs remain an effective treatment for influenza."

It does not appear that the new strain presents a greater risk than other flu strains.

The CDC is testing more influenza B viruses from NC and surrounding states to determine whether the same genetic code can be found in other influenza B viruses from NC or elsewhere in the country.

Health officials say they plan to monitor the situation closely and provide updated information as available to NC physicians.

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