News / Health

South Asia Superbug is Potential Global Problem

Multimedia

Vidushi Sinha

Scientists say they have discovered a new gene among bacteria that are highly resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics.  Experts say the superbug, originally found in India and other parts of South Asia, is showing up in patients in Europe and the United States and is at the root of life-threatening pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Scientists warn the superbug has already been identified in patients from Britain, The United States, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.   All of these patients had traveled to India for more affordable medical care.

The discovery was made in a new gene, called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM-1.  NDM-1 is carried in bacteria that are resistant to almost all existing antibiotics including the most powerful group called carbapenems.

British Scientist David Livermore, who helped identify the gene, says the bacteria will be difficult to treat if they spread. "What we're seeing here isn't the spread of a single superbug, rather it's the spread of resistance between bacteria. And this resistance includes the carbapenems, which have been the most powerful, the most reliable antibiotics in many infections," he said.

With increasing international travel and medical tourism in search of cheaper medical procedures, this superbug has traveled with patients back to their home countries.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases in the United States. "The three cases that were reported in June in the United States, all were traceable to people who had been in India," he said.

NDM-1 is  common in hospitals in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India and more widely in local communities where it is spread through contaminated drinking water.  

Professor Livermore and his team collected bacteria samples from many countries and found 44 NDM-1 positive bacteria in the Indian city of Chennai, 26 in Haryana, a state in the north of India, 37 in Britain, and 73 in other cities in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Livermore says that the spread of this gene should not be ignored. "The big fear if we ignore this is that the resistance starts to spread among //// lots of different bacteria and the resistant bacteria spread among lots of patients. And then we would be in real trouble," he said.

Dr. Krishna Banudha of George Washington University says NDM-1 can cause serious infections. "Pneumonia, urinary tract infection, it can cause blood infection and kidney infection," he said.

Global health experts say the pace of manufacturing of antibiotic drugs has not matched the speed and spread of these new bacterial diseases.  Carbapenems, the most powerful group of antibiotics known to work on NDM-1, have been used only when other drugs are ineffective. Scientists say it will take years of research before a new antibiotic comes out.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid