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Int J Health Geogr. 2010 Feb 24;9:13. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-9-13.

Selection for resistance to oseltamivir in seasonal and pandemic H1N1 influenza and widespread co-circulation of the lineages.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Informatics, The Ohio State University, College of Medicine, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.



In Spring 2009, a novel reassortant strain of H1N1 influenza A emerged as a lineage distinct from seasonal H1N1. On June 11, the World Heath Organization declared a pandemic - the first since 1968. There are currently two main branches of H1N1 circulating in humans, a seasonal branch and a pandemic branch. The primary treatment method for pandemic and seasonal H1N1 is the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Although many seasonal H1N1 strains around the world are resistant to oseltamivir, initially, pandemic H1N1 strains have been susceptible to oseltamivir. As of February 3, 2010, there have been reports of resistance to oseltamivir in 225 cases of H1N1 pandemic influenza. The evolution of resistance to oseltamivir in pandemic H1N1 could be due to point mutations in the neuraminidase or a reassortment event between seasonal H1N1 and pandemic H1N1 viruses that provide a neuraminidase carrying an oseltamivir-resistant genotype to pandemic H1N1.


Using phylogenetic analysis of neuraminidase sequences, we show that both seasonal and pandemic lineages of H1N1 are evolving to direct selective pressure for resistance to oseltamivir. Moreover, seasonal lineages of H1N1 that are resistant to oseltamivir co-circulate with pandemic H1N1 throughout the globe. By combining phylogenetic and geographic data we have thus far identified 53 areas of co-circulation where reassortment can occur. At our website POINTMAP, we make available a visualization and an application for updating these results as more data are released.


As oseltamivir is a keystone of preparedness and treatment for pandemic H1N1, the potential for resistance to oseltamivir is an ongoing concern. Reassortment and, more likely, point mutation have the potential to create a strain of pandemic H1N1 against which we have a reduced number of treatment options.

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