Mutations in the bird flu virus have been found in two infected people in Egypt, in a form that might be resistant to the medication most commonly used to treat the deadly disease, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The mutations in the H5N1 virus strain were not drastic enough to make the virus infectious enough to spark a pandemic, WHO officials said. But more such mutations could prompt scientists to rethink current treatment strategies.
Samples taken from two bird flu patients in Egypt — a 16-year-old girl and her 26-year-old uncle — were not as responsive as regular H5N1 viruses to Tamiflu, a drug also know as oseltamivir that is used to treat the disease, the officials said.
The girl and her uncle died in late December, as did the man's 35-year-old sister, although she has not yet been confirmed as having had H5N1. The three — who lived together in Gharbiyah province, 50 miles northwest of Cairo — fell ill within days of one another after being exposed to sick ducks.