Persistence and resistance in bird flu

British scientists have found that the widespread use of the antiviral drug Tamiflu in the event of an avian influenza pandemic in humans could lead to the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the virus in wild birds. A team at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford publish findings in the January issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) that suggest that Tamiflu can persist in rivers and waste water, and could enter wildfowl populations through this route. Nations worldwide have stockpiled Tamiflu for the treatment influenza but the active ingredient of the drug would be excreted into sewers for several weeks during a pandemic and its stability means it would withstand biodegradation long enough for any infected birds to drink the contaminated water and pass emergent strains of resistant virus on to other birds.