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Press Release - 1/9/09

Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558

MEDIA ADVISORY: Local Health Department Expert Available to Comment on Influenza Antiviral Resistance

Washington, DC (January 9, 2009)
In late December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a notice advising public health officials that a very high percentage of the dominant influenza virus strain this season is resistant to treatment with the antiviral drug (Tamiflu®) due to a genetic mutation. Doctors have been urged to test suspected flu viruses to see what strain they are in order to avoid prescribing treatments that would likely be unsuccessful, but public health experts say that the situation is a good reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu.

"This situation underscores the importance of immunization against influenza. Prevention is always superior to treatment, so we need to ensure that as many people as possible in our communities get vaccinated," said Jeffrey S. Duchin, MD, Chair of the Immunization Work Group of the National Association of County and City Health Officials and chief of the communicable disease epidemiology and immunization section at the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health. "This also highlights our lack of good rapid tests to diagnose influenza. Although the implications for a pandemic are uncertain, it reminds us that we cannot be overly dependent on antiviral drugs as a magic bullet."

Dr. Duchin is available to speak to media on the public health implications of antiviral resistance. Please contact Becky Wexler at or (301) 652-1558 to schedule an interview.

NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) is the national organization representing the nation's nearly 3,000 local health departments. These agencies work every day on the front lines to protect and promote the health of their communities. NACCHO develops resources and programs and promotes national policies that support effective local public health practice. For additional information about NACCHO,