Scientists have just published a study confirming something long feared about H7N9 bird flu: the virus can mutate to become resistant to the drug meant to treat it, SCMP reports.
The study, published on May 28 in the Lancet, was conducted from April 4 to April 20 at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre. Of the 14 patients that studied and treated with Tamiflu, three did not see a decrease in the amount of the virus in their body even after treatment.
Instead they have become sicker, leading scientists to come to the conclusion that the virus had developed resistance to the drug in the short period of treatment.
Two of the patients from the study have since died as a result of the influenza strain.
The authors of the study concluded: “The apparent ease with which antiviral resistance emerges in A/H7N9 viruses is concerning; it needs to be closely monitored and considered in future pandemic response plans.”
However, researchers did point out that most patients saw a decrease in the virus quantity after being treated with the drug.
They added, “early treatment of suspected or confirmed cases is strongly encouraged”.
[By Huizhong Wu // Image credit: Xinhua]