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Ramifications of widespread use of Tamiflu
Widespread use of the antiviral Tamiflu to fight pandemic avian flu in humans could actually lead to the development of what public health officials hope to avoid––drug-resistant strains of the virus in wild birds. British researchers at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford have released findings in the January 2007 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) that demonstrate how Tamiflu’s persistence in wastewater and river water could affect the waterfowl that drink from those water sources.
The authors warn that, with the release of the uniquely structured, biochemically resistant OC (Tamiflu - oseltamivir carboxylate) antiviral into river water, "the range of OC concentrations predicted . . . will have uncharacterized ecotoxicological consequences." They call for more detailed water contamination modeling, especially in high-risk areas of the world such as Southeast Asian countries, where there is more frequent human-to-waterfowl contact and where future use of Tamiflu would be significant. They also recommend development of methods to minimize the release of OC into wastewater systems, such as biological and chemical pretreatment in the toilet.