New research on the H7N9 bird flu strain shows that it can become resistant to antiviral medication.
To date Chinese authorities have reported 131 cases, 37 of whom have died. State mouthpiece Xinhua confirmed a new case in Beijing on May 28–a 6-year-old boy in the Haidian district.
This is the second incidence of the virus in the capital city, and the first new human case to be reported since May 8, when the regime said that the outbreak had been brought under control.
In a paper published in The Lancet on May 28, Chinese researchers looked at results from a study of 14 hospitalized patients infected with H7N9 in Shanghai. All were treated with Tamiflu, but three did not respond and became much worse. Two of these people were found to have a drug-resistant strain of H7N9 not previously seen before.
While most of the patients improved, the two with the resistant strain had to be put on oxygenation machines. Both still had high levels of the virus despite medication, and one of them died.
The study authors said that H7N9 cases should be treated promptly, but that the problem of drug resistance needs to be taken into consideration.
“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,” the researchers concluded in their study.