Tamiflu, one of the only treatments for Avian Flu, may trigger H7N9 to become drug resistant (meaning a sample in the patient became resistant after Tamiflu was administered). Early analysis had predicted the possibility, but we now have actual cases of it happening.
Not everyone with H7N9 develop drug resistance, some get a lower viral load, but those that do become very sick.
For now, avian flu seems to be contained, but it’s expected to pick up where it left off next flu season.
It’s shown itself capable of spreading quickly and silently. The question to ask ourselves now, is what will the beginning of next flu season look like? How many regions will have H7N9 have spread to in the interim months? How much will this highly adaptable strain have changed? Now that it’s got a large number of human hosts, how might that contact encourage development in the virus to target and better spread among humans? Will it’s ability to quickly become drug resistant affect the vaccine being developed?
The direction H7N9 is going is scary. It will require luck more than anything for it not to become an even bigger problem next year. The catch is if we devote everything to tracking and controlling H7N9, there are several other places and flu strains poised to be just as dangerous. Since there’s no way to predict, make sure to take care of yourself, including keeping your immune system in fighting shape!
What do you think will happen next flu season?