In a study recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal , scientists claim to have found a new gene — Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) — in patients in South Asia and Britain who had undergone treatment in the sub-continent, mainly in India. According to the report based on study of specimens collected from hospitalized patients from India and Britain, the presence of NDM-1 makes the bacteria highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the carbapenems. The report warrants co-ordinated international surveillance and warns of the potential of NDM-1 to be a world-wide public health problem.
A team of researchers led by Professor Timothy Walsh collected samples from hospital patients in Chennai and Haryana, and from patients referred to Britain’s national reference laboratory between 2007 and 2009 and had reportedly found 44 NDM-1-positive bacteria patients in Chennai, 26 in Haryana and 37 in Britain. Many of the British NDM-1 positive patients had history of prior travel to India or Pakistan for hospital treatment, including cosmetic surgery.
But the health-care providers from India are sceptic over the results of study saying that there was little chance this bacteria would infect overseas “health tourism” visitors, since most of these bacteria are mostly transmitted to ICU patients, those in ventilators or critically ill patients. Since overseas patients come for selective surgeries, chances of them getting these bugs are negligible. According to Indian Council of Medical Research director general VM Katoch, it is unfair to cast aspersions on a country and there is no need to panic. According to Dr. Amit Verma, director of critical care medicine at Fortis, the sample size of the study was too small to arrive at a conclusion and that the chances of the purpoted super bug becoming a global epidemic is negligible due to the restricted transmission capability of the bacteria and hence does not anticipate any major impact to medical tourism in India.
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Keywords: superbug, super-bug, India, Pakistan, Lancet, Karthikeyan Kumarasamy, Chennai, Haryana, Britain, Timothy Walsh, Walsh, Katoch, NIDM, Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, E.coli, Klebsiella, Super bug, Carbapenems, NDM-1, NDM, ICMR, Emergence of a new antibiotic resistance mechanism in India, Pakistan, and the UK: a molecular, biological, and epidemiological study