The emergence of antiviral drug-resistant strains of the influenza virus in addition to the rapid spread of the recent pandemic A(H1N1) 2009 virus highlight the importance of surveillance of influenza in identifying new variants as they appear. In this study, genetic characteristics and antiviral susceptibility patterns of influenza samples collected in Lebanon during the 2008-09 season were investigated. Forty influenza virus samples were isolated from 89 nasopharyngeal swabs obtained from patients with influenza-like illness. Of these samples, 33 (82.5%) were A(H3N2), 3 (7.5%) were A(H1N1), and 4 (10%) were B. All the H3N2 viruses were resistant to amantadine but were sensitive to oseltamivir and zanamivir; while all the H1N1 viruses were resistant to oseltamivir (possessed H275Y mutation, N1 numbering, in their NA) but were sensitive to amantadine and zanamivir. In the case of influenza B, both Victoria and Yamagata lineages were identified (three and one isolates each, respectively) and they showed decreased susceptibility to oseltamivir and zanamivir when compared to influenza A viruses. Influenza circulation patterns in Lebanon were very similar to those in Europe during the same season. Continued surveillance is important to fully elucidate influenza patterns in Lebanon and the Middle East in general, especially in light of the current influenza pandemic.
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