Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is an emerging problem and a serious threat to public health. New research has shown that E.coli and other common bacteria, have begun to pick up a gene which renders them resistant to all but the most powerful antibiotics. The gene, called NDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1), modifies bacteria making them highly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Worryingly, there’s no emerging class of drugs that can be used to treat such bacterial infections.
A study, recently published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, said bacteria containing the NDM-1 gene were becoming more common in India and Pakistan, and had now been imported into Britain by people returning from these countries.The spread of the gene is being assisted by countries that promote medical tourism, as more and more people travel to get cheaper medical treatments, including cosmetic surgery.
The so-called superbug gene has already been identified in 37 people in the UK , including 1 in Northern Ireland, who travelled to India or Pakistan for elective surgery. Apart from the UK, the resistant gene has been detected in Australia, Canada, the US, the Netherlands and Sweden. No cases of the bacteria have so far been detected in the Republic of Ireland.
Experts in antibiotic resistance have called the gene mutation “worrying” and “ominous” as it has the potential to become endemic worldwide. They are calling for co-ordinated international surveillance of the bacteria, to monitor the spread of this resistant gene.
Sorry if I’ve depressed you with all this talk of resistant bugs. Now, I’d like to introduce you to a friendly bug… meet ‘Doodle Bug’, my 12 year old cat.
(filmed by my son on his new iPhone)