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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid