Frequency of drug-resistant viruses and virus shedding in pediatric influenza patients treated with neuraminidase inhibitors.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Although influenza virus resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitor zanamivir is reported less frequently than is resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir in clinical settings, it is unknown whether this difference is due to the limited use of zanamivir or to an inherent property of the drug. We therefore compared the prevalence of drug-resistant viruses and virus shedding in seasonal influenza virus-infected children treated with either oseltamivir or zanamivir. METHODS Clinical specimens (throat or nasal swab) were collected from a total of 144 pediatric influenza patients during the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 influenza seasons. Neuraminidase inhibitor-resistant mutants were detected among the isolated viruses by sequencing the viral hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes. Sensitivity of the viruses to neuraminidase inhibitors was tested by neuraminidase inhibition assay. RESULTS In oseltamivir- or zanamivir-treated influenza patients who were statistically comparable in their age distribution, vaccination history, and type or subtype of virus isolates, the virus-shedding period in zanamivir-treated patients was significantly shorter than that in oseltamivir-treated patients. Furthermore, the frequency of zanamivir-resistant viruses was significantly lower than that of oseltamivir-resistant viruses. CONCLUSION In comparison with treatment with oseltamivir, treatment of pediatric patients with zanamivir resulted in the emergence of fewer drug-resistant influenza viruses and a shorter virus-shedding period. We conclude that zanamivir shows promise as a better therapy for pediatric influenza patients.

DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciq183

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