News / Asia

New Study Warns of Widespread 'Superbugs' in South Asia

New Study Warns of Widespread 'Superbugs' in South Asia
New Study Warns of Widespread 'Superbugs' in South Asia

Indian health officials have rejected a new medical study warning of widespread drug-resistant bacteria in the country's capital.  But the co-author of the study says Delhi is in denial, and warns the bacteria can spread easily around the world, possibly threatening the effectiveness of medical treatments.

India's Health Ministry has issued a statement dismissing new British research warning of a dramatic spread of a bacteria containing a drug-resistant gene in the nation's capital.

The report was published Thursday in the British journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.  It focuses on the gene "NDM-1," in which ND stands for New Delhi.  A report last year cited the gene's presence here in bacteria found in hospital environments.  The newer report says the bacteria is now widespread in the city's drinking supply, sewer systems, and other public sources of water.

What concerns Dr. Mark Toleman, a co-author of the British study, is that NDM-1 turns ordinary illness-causing bacteria into what are known as "superbugs," which are all but impervious to antibiotics. "For these particular type of bacteria, there are no useful antibiotics left," he said.

That means simple bacterial illnesses, like dysentery, could become nearly impossible to treat with drugs.  Advanced procedures like surgery, which rely on antibiotics to control infection, could become much more dangerous.

The Indian Health Ministry statement, issued Thursday evening, describes the Lancet findings as "not significant."  The statement criticizes the study as being unsupported by clinical evidence, and points out that Indian patients respond well to antibiotic treatment.

Dr. Ranjit Roy Chaudhary is a senior advisor on medical policy to the Indian government.   He says the Lancet study should not be cause for alarm.

"The science of the study is good.  But the implication of the findings is always made a little more sensational than it is," Chaudhary said.

Chaudhary says India has long been aware it faces water management challenges. "This is not the first time bugs have been found in the water - even resistant bugs.  We shouldn't get alarmed by this.  We should take the ordinary precautions.  Boiling water for 20 minutes will get rid of it," Chaudhary said.

Still, Toleman insists India is in "extreme denial" about the potential danger of NDM-1.  He says that its spread is probably not limited to New Delhi. "Almost certainly it's much more widespread.  And I'm sure if we did a study in most, or maybe even all, of the major cities in India, we'd find it," he said.

Toleman and co-author Professor Timothy Walsh expect many more studies pointing to South Asia as a key culprit in spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria globally via tourism and travel.

"The polluted water supply and the poor sanitation in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan is not only dramatically affecting the health of those individual nations, but ... this is having an effect on the health of the rest of the world," Toleman said.

The controversy over the Lancet report coincides with Thursday's World Health Day, sponsored by the United Nations World Health Organization, devoted this year entirely to the theme of antibiotic resistance.

Researchers widely agree that improper use of antibiotics, which is rampant in India, is making it easier for drug-resistant genes to emerge.  The Indian government is expected to announce new policies to restrict access to antibiotics in a matter of days.

Related video report by Vidushi Sinha:

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid