New H7N9 bird flu resists drugs without losing ability to spread

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Paul Martin

BY KATE KELLAND
Reuters.com
Tue Dec 10, 2013

(Reuters) – Scientists have found that a mutation in a new strain of bird flu infecting people in China can render it resistant to a key first-line treatment drug without limiting its ability to spread in mammals.

The discovery means that unlike seasonal flu strains, which often become less transmissible when they develop resistance to drugs like Roche’s Tamiflu, the new H7N9 bird flu does not lose any of its spreading potential with drug resistance.

While this does not make H7N9 any more likely to develop into a human pandemic, researchers said it means doctors should be prudent in their use of anti-viral medicines to treat H7N9 cases, and consider using drugs other than Tamiflu, such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza, where possible.

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