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Swine flu virus has partially mutated,says Health Minister

The H1N1 virus responsible for the swine flu outbreak across the country has “partially mutated”,said Gujarat Health and Family Welfare Minister Jayanarayan Vyas on Thursday,even as the Union Health Ministry ruled out the same in a statement.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: April 13, 2012 5:49 am

The H1N1 virus responsible for the swine flu outbreak across the country has “partially mutated”,said Gujarat Health and Family Welfare Minister Jayanarayan Vyas on Thursday,even as the Union Health Ministry ruled out the same in a statement.

Vyas said samples of the virus sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) by the state government has confirmed the mutation. “Normally this virus spreads during the cold season (winter). Now this time,this virus seems to have partially mutated and has become resistant

to high temperatures. That is one reason why you are seeing an outbreak now (in summer),” Vyas told reporters on the sidelines of a Pharma Conclave organised here on Thursday.

“The mutation is,however,very mild,” he said,adding there are chances that some of the H1N1 vaccines developed by pharma companies could be rendered ineffective because of this mutation.

“If the virus mutates,and changes occur in the bio-cellular cell structure of the virus,then it will not respond to the existing vaccines,” he said about the virus that first emerged in Mexico in 2009.

These comments from the minister come at a time when the state has already registered three deaths. But Vyas said the situation is “not a panicky one”. “We are keeping a vigilant eye on the situation. We are in a state of preparedness and have kept everything ready — from isolation wards to medicines,” he said,adding that Gujarat has a “more than enough stock of Tamiflu tablets”.

Meanwhile,in a statement issued today,the Union Health Ministry said: “Owing to reports circulating in the media regarding mutation in the virus,expert opinion was sought from the Director,National Institute of Virology,Pune who has stated that there is no mutation to suggest change of virus to ‘dangerous form’ and that the present strain of H1N1 pandemic virus are susceptible to Oseltamivir and the currently available vaccine can be used for protection against the virus.”

NIV had issued a statement ruling out mutation a day earlier.

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