A New 'Superbug' Emerges in India


A new superbug -- bacteria resistant to antibiotics -- could spread around the world from India, scientists said on Wednesday, aided in part by medical tourism.

The researchers found a new gene called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, in patients in South Asia and in Britain. The NDM-1 gene makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and the researchers say there are no new drugs on the horizon to tackle it.

In the U.S. there have been three cases so far, Reuters reported, all from patients who received medical care in India. Reuters adds that people often travel to India for its affordable health care.

Fewer MRSA Infections

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in health-care settings has decreased from 2005 to 2008 in the U.S. The CDC reported that MRSA infections decreased 17% among patients who were diagnosed after leaving the hospital and dropped 28% among those with hospital-onset disease.

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that's resistant to treatment with certain antibiotics, and it has become one of the most common hospital-acquired infections. The infection can progress rapidly and is difficult to treat.

While many lament the lack of significant research and development of superbug treatments, reports of the new NDM-1 superbug come just a week after GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced its scientists have found a new compound that may help in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria.

Between 5% and 10% of all hospital patients develop a drug-resistant infection, driving annual U.S. health-care costs up by about $5 billion, according to the NIH. About 90,000 patients infected with drug-resistant bacteria die each year in the U.S. as a result of their infection, up from 13,300 patient deaths in 1992.