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New Drug-Resistant Superbug orginates from Indian Hospitals, Infections Reported by British, Canadian medical travelers

Posted Aug 12 2010 12:07pm
Canadian and British patients who have traveled to India for health care have  become infected with a superbug that has proven resistant to almost all antibiotics.

“There will be others. It’s just a matter of time,” predicts microbiologist Dylan Pillai of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.

So far dozens of cases have been reported, including  British, Indian and Pakistani patients, all of whom contracted infections caused by bacteria characterized by "New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1", as the enzyme has been named  in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The drug-resistant enzyme originated  in the subcontinent - of the ~2 dozen Britons infected, half had recently  travelled to India or Pakistan,  and 14 had been admitted to hospitals for kidney transplant and cosmetic surgery there.  Two cases have been confirmed among Canadians who spent time in India.

The  infection has also been found in patients from the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia.

Researchers called the  superbug’s spread a major  health problem. pharmaceutical companies have not yet produced new antibiotics for NDM-1 sufferers.

There have been no reported cases originating from hospitals in North America and Latin America.

Bacteria and viruses originating from hospitals is of course not a new thing; patients are exposed to such no matter what hospital or continent they find themselves in; it is one of the naturally occurring 'hazards' of health care.

Should patients stay home?  

Not necessarily, especially if medical travel is within the North American continent. 

"We've had no incidence of the virus at Angeles, but just as was the case for H1N1,  we are aware of the situation and are reinforcing the precautions we already have in place for such events," notes Hospital Angeles Tijuana director Paulo Yberri.

"We will keep all patients fully apprised of any information about threat as it becomes available, and notify  patients the moment we feel that travel to our hospital creates an unacceptable risk to their health. As of now, we have encountered no instances of the virus and are following the JCI - recommended following best practices for prophylactic measures."

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