Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tamiflu in Rivers?

Two weeks ago, an open flu shot clinic caused a traffic jam in Silver Spring. Several police officers were called into direct traffic around the Dennis Avenue health center after the Washington Post reported that H1N1 vaccinations would be available there all morning. A line of people waiting in the cold snaked all the way into the middle of the parking lot by mid morning.

As people everywhere seem to be scrambling to get vaccinated against the flu, Science News had an interesting report on their website this week, highlighting the concern that medicine used to treat influenza called Tamiflu might be going into rivers via human waste.

Janet Raloff's article on the website states: "Concerns are now building that birds, which are natural influenza carriers, are being exposed to waterborne residues of Tamiflu’s active form and might develop and spread drug-resistant strains of seasonal and avian flu."

Worries such as this one have come up previously, when researchers began reporting all kinds of pharmaceuticals were making their way from humans into waterways. This newest research is particularly troubling, however, due to concerns regarding H1N1 and its treatment, since the huge numbers of H1N1 cases could send the use of Tamiflu "skyrocketing," according to the article.

This is also one more example of how connected we are to problems of pollution and clean water, all the time, no matter how far we live from rivers and streams.

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