New Strain of Bird Flu Quickly Develops Drug Resistance
The newly discovered H7N9 avian flu is already giving doctors and researchers a hard time. News sources, including the BBC, say that H7N9 has been confirmed in 131 patients and has caused 36 deaths since it was first recognized. And the real trouble may just be getting started. Because according to researchers and doctors, this new version of bird flu has developed a real resistance to antiviral flu drug treatments.
At the University of Hong Kong in China, research is being compiled about patients being treated with antiviral flu drugs, including Tamiflu. Their research is showing that a frightening percentage – three out of every 15 patients – failed to respond to the treatment as their strain of avian flu became resistant to the medication.
The patients involved in the flu drug study, many of whom had developed pneumonia and were using ventilators to help them breathe better, are just a small sampling of the scope of this possible H7N9 epidemic. And while many of the patients felt a relief in their symptoms when they began a regimen of antiviral flu drugs, some didn’t, and subsequently three died.
Analysis of these patients after death, showed that the H7N9 virus in their systems had developed mutations. These mutations allow the virus to cancel any current flu drug’s method of action. And that, according to researchers, is cause for alarm. For now, the medical community will continue to administer the same antiviral medications to those presenting with symptoms of avian flu.