Drug resistance in new China bird flu raises concern

An Indian health team holds a rooster during a cull after an outbreak of bird flu at the village of Sukna, on the outskirts of Siliguri on May 12, 2008.  Authorities in eastern India imposed a new ban on the sale of poultry following a fresh outbreak of bird flu, a minister said. The outbreak in West Bengal was confirmed over the weekend, a month after a previous ban on the sale and transport of poultry across the state was lifted after the slaughter of almost 3.8 million chickens.   AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Team of scientists holding rooster. New strain of bird flu causing major problems in China.

The new bird flu strain that has killed 36 people in China has proved resistant to Tamiflu for the first time, a development scientists said was “concerning”.

The H7N9 virus was found to be resistant to Roche’s widely used flu drug in three out of 14 patients who were studied in detail by doctors from Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Tamiflu, which is given as a pill, belongs to a group of medicines known as neuraminidase inhibitors that currently offer the only known treatment option for bird flu. GlaxoSmithKline’s inhaled medicine Relenza has the same mode of action.

In one patient, the gene mutation responsible for resistance appears to have arisen after infection took hold, probably as a result of treatment with Tamiflu, leading to concerns that medication may be the trigger for resistance to develop.

“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 wrote in an article published online by The Lancet medical journal on Tuesday.

Earlier genetic studies had raised worries about drug resistance but this is the first time that the problem has been documented in clinical cases.

For most of the 14 patients studied, Tamiflu successfully reduced the amount of virus found in throat swabs and helped speed clinical recovery. But it had no impact on the amount of virus found in swabs from three patients who became severely ill.

A spokeswoman for Swiss-based drugmaker Roche said rates of Tamiflu resistance remained low globally, but it took the issue of resistance “very seriously” and was collaborating with health authorities to monitor the situation.

The H7N9 virus is known to have infected 131 people in China since February, but no new cases have been detected since early May, according to the World Health Organization.

Experts from the United Nations agency said last week the bird flu outbreak in China had caused some $6.5 billion in losses to the economy.

Scientific studies of the virus have established it is being transmitted from birds – probably mostly chickens – to people. But experts have yet to identify the source of the circulating virus – the so-called “reservoir” – that is leading to chickens contracting it and sporadically passing it on to humans.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…

News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.