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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More