Thursday, December 22, 2005

Resistance to Bird Flu Drug Reported

In a development experts called alarming, two bird flu patients in Vietnam died after developing resistance to Tamiflu, the key drug that governments are stockpiling in case of a large-scale outbreak.

The experts said the deaths were disturbing because the two girls had received early and aggressive treatment with Tamiflu and had gotten the recommended doses.

The new report suggests that the doses doctors now consider ideal may be too low.

"While the numbers in the study are very small, the resistance and clinical failures here are very important," said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. "Resistance could mean the difference between surviving and not surviving."

The study in today's New England Journal of Medicine was led by Menno de Jong of the University of Oxford.

Deadly Germs Infest Nasal Passages

A germ that can overcome drugs and cause deadly infections dwells in the nasal passages of about 2.3 million Americans, a government study says.

Women and people 60 and older were most likely to be carrying the bacteria, called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus , or MRSA, in their noses, according to a study of 9,622 people tested in 2001 and 2002. The research was published yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

About 125,000 hospital patients, most already sick and receiving drugs or nourishment through tubes that can harbor germs, get drug-resistant staph infections each year. Researchers believe the presence of the germs outside hospitals is rising, said Buddy Creech of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

Idea of Water, Life on Mars Doubted

Two new studies are challenging the notion that the desolate Martian plains once brimmed with salty pools of water that could have supported some form of life.

Instead, the studies argue, the layered rock outcrops probed by NASA's robot rover Opportunity and interpreted as signs of ancient water could have been left by explosive volcanic ash or a meteorite impact eons ago. That would suggest a far more violent and dry history than proposed by the scientists operating Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit.

The new scenarios, published in today's journal Nature, paint a rather pessimistic view of whether the ancient Martian environment could have supported life.

After two months of surveying, scientists announced that chemical and geological clues gathered by the rovers showed liquid water once coursed over the rocks and soils at that spot on Mars.

But the new studies reached different conclusions from the same data.

-- From News Services

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