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Japan, HK report Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cases

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TOKYO (AP), Japan and Hong Kong reported Friday that they have each found a patient with the type of swine flu that has proven resistance to Tamiflu, days after Denmark reported the first such case.
Meanwhile, China official Xinhua News Agency said a woman initially reported to be country's first swine flu death was actually accidentally electrocuted while taking a shower in a hospital.
In Japan, a strain of swine flu resistant to Tamiflu, the leading pharmaceutical defense against the virus, was found in a patient in western Osaka in mid-May, said Health Ministry official Takeshi Enami.
He said the strain developed in a Japanese patient who was on the drug to prevent the illness, and it has not spread to others. The patient, whose age and gender were not released, has since recovered after taking Relenza, another effective influenza drug.
In Hong Kong, a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu was found in a sample taken from a 16-year-old girl who tested positive to the flu upon her arrival from San Francisco last month, the territory's Department of Health said Friday. She has since recovered without taking Tamiflu or Relenza. The virus, however, showed sensitivity to Relenza.
Scientists have been worried that the new swine flu could swap genes with seasonal or other types of flu and perhaps mutate into a more dangerous or more infectious form.
But Enami said genetic tests on the virus from the Japanese patient found no trace of such crossing. Experts plan to conduct further tests on the virus at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo.
"We do not see it as an immediate threat to public health as long as the Tamiflu-resistant strain is not spreading from person to person," Enami said.
Until an effective vaccine is developed, the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza are considered the best available defense against the swine flu virus.
In China's coastal province of Zhejiang, police said an investigation confirmed Lou Yihong, 34, died accidentally Wednesday while showering, according to Xinhua. The report said an electricity leak in the shower bathroom was to blame.
More than 50 infuriated relatives stormed the hospital and threw rocks after finding out Lou had died, the report said.
As of Friday, 915 swine flu virus cases had been confirmed on the mainland by the Chinese Health Ministry, with no fatalities reported. Hong Kong reported 44 new infections of swine flu, bringing the city's total to 901. Japan has found 1,428 patients, but no deaths so far.
Elsewhere in Asia, Brunei reported its first swine flu-related death, a 12-year-old girl who had been battling a liver ailment, the only fatality so far among 93 patients in the tiny sultanate.
In Thailand, the Public Health Ministry reported the country's sixth swine flu death, a 30-year-old man who died Friday in a Bangkok hospital. It also reported 154 new cases Friday, bringing the country's total to 1,760. Prat Boonyavongvirot, the ministry's permanent secretary, said only 20 remained hospitalized, one in critical condition.
According to the latest report Wednesday from the U.N.'s World Health Organization, there have been 77,201 swine flu cases worldwide, and 332 deaths. The WHO report said seven of those deaths have been in Australia, three in Thailand and one in the Philippines.
Associated Press writers Alexa Olesen in Beijing, Dikky Sinn in Hong Kong and Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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