Killer ‘New Delhi’ superbug reaches New Zealand

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WELLINGTON - A new killer strain of superbug-New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-has reached New Zealand and up to four patients have contracted the bacterial gene since December last year.

New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, is found in E. Coli and Klebsiella bacteria, causing anything from urinary tract infections, high fevers and pneumonia to abdominal infections. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.

Both E.Coli and Klebsiella occur naturally in the gut, but the bacterial gene releases an enzyme which renders them resistant to known antibiotics.

NDM-1 was first detected last year when a Swedish patient caught it after cosmetic surgery in New Delhi.

In just a few months the superbug has spread to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK, Pakistan, Austria, France, Germany, Oman, Kenya, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore, killing more than 20 people.

John Fraser, head of the University of Auckland’s School of Medicine, wrote on the Science Media Centre website about the likely spread of the bug because of the ease of overseas travel.

“This is a significant finding that signals the development of a highly resistant gram negative organism that is essentially resistant to most known antibiotics, including the carbapenems used as a last resort for other antibiotic resistant strains,” the New Zealand Herald quoted him as saying.

“Particularly worrying is the implication by the authors that this strain has arisen and spread extremely rapidly across India and Pakistan and also in the UK, through the wide use of unprescribed antibiotics which offers a strong selection for this organism.

“Equally worrying is how easily it has spread to the UK, which has a very large number of Pakistan and India immigrants,” he said. (ANI)

Filed under: Antibiotics, Pneumonia, World

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