-- Randy Dotinga
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A gene that makes
bacteria resistant to almost all antibiotics has appeared in
Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, researchers have found.
The so-called NDM-1 gene has also been identified in the United
Kingdom in patients who underwent surgery in India.
Researchers warn that the appearance of the antibiotic-resistant
strain of bacteria is worrisome because it could spread around the
world due to the fact that people in Europe and the United States
often travel internationally for medical procedures.
The researchers, led by Timothy Walsh of Cardiff University in
the United Kingdom, first discovered the gene in 2009 in samples of
pneumonia and E. coli bacteria taken from a Swedish patient in
India. The bacteria with the gene resist various types of
antibiotics, including those specifically designed to treat
infections caused by drug-resistant germs.
The researchers found signs of the bacteria in Bangladesh,
India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. It was most commonly found
in a pneumonia strain and an E. coli strain that commonly causes
urinary tract infections.
In some cases, the germs resisted all antibiotics, according to
the report released online Aug. 11 in advance of publication in the
September print edition of
The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study authors noted that the U.K. patients with
NDM-1-producing antibiotic-resistant bacteria had traveled to India
or Pakistan for surgery, including cosmetic surgery. Because it is
common for people from Europe and the United States to travel
internationally for such surgeries, NDM-1 "will likely spread
worldwide," Walsh and colleagues concluded.
Whether the bacteria will actually become a major threat is
"difficult to really tell at this moment in time, but the potential
is there for it to become a worrisome issue," Dr. Johann Pitout, a
University of Calgary microbiologist, said in an interview.
If the germs do spread, their existence will have "serious
future implications" on how hospitals deal with infections, noted
Pitout, who also authored a commentary accompanying the study.
For more on
drug-resistant bacteria, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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