Alberta Health Services has confirmed Alberta’s first case of drug-resistant influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu.

Laboratory testing confirmed that a sample taken from an adult Alberta woman in August was oseltamivir-resistant.

Senior medical officer Dr. Gerry Predy said the findings are significant because oseltamivir, or Tamiflu, is the most common antiviral used to treat influenza.

“It’s always a concern that there is resistance but it isn’t unexpected,” Predy said at yesterday’s press conference.

“This isn’t something people should be alarmed about,”

Predy said drug-resistant strains are still treatable with other antivirals, but it will be harder to get the illness under control.

“This won’t change our approach in any way,” said Predy, even though antiviral medications are a key part of the strategy for fighting H1N1.

Predy said this is an isolated case, and an investigation is underway to determine if the drug-resistant strain was present at the outset of the patient’s illness or if it developed during treatment. AHS is also looking for other people who may have contracted the virus.

The woman was being treated for pandemic H1N1, but was never hospitalized for her illness.

Predy said she is now recovering and no longer displaying symptoms.

Predy said the development of an H1N1 vaccine won’t be affected by this discovery either, and that a vaccine will be available in November.

Other isolated cases of drug-resistant H1N1 have been reported, including an earlier case in Quebec.

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