Actually, not yet, but if we’re not careful, there may be a new superbug on it’s way. Just about the time it was announced that the H1N1 pandemic is over, along comes news that there’s another gene with the potential to turn almost any bacteria into an antibiotic-resistant bug. The name of this bad boy is NDM-1, called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamose. Seems New Delhi is the place it was first identified. Patients seeking travel tours, which include plastic surgery, in India and Pakistan have been reported as becoming ill once they returned to their home countries.
More than 50 British patients who had plastic surgery in Southeast Asia have been infected with this superbug. According to the Centers for Disease Control, NDM-1 has an enzyme that destroys many commonly used antibiotics, rendering them ineffective. E-Coli and Klebsiella pneumonia thus far are two of the hosts to this disease. The CDC is alerting physicians to be aware of this when they are treating patients who have recently received medical care in foreign countries, in order to prevent the spread of these highly resistant organisms.
Dr. Larry Baddow, Chair of the Division of Infectious Disease at Mayo Clinic says they have been seeing this globally over time. He classifies it as “slow motion gloom and doom.” Because of the overuse of antibiotics, given too often when not necessary, and for longer periods of time, they see an increase in antibiotic-resistant bugs. Chairman of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. William Schaffner, says “antibiotic stewardship” can help keep new bugs from spreading. Because of economics, many pharmaceutical companies have stopped or slowed down research for stronger forms of antibiotics. However, medical professionals are monitoring the evolution of this new superbug, and will encourage researchers to find a stronger antibiotic that will combat it, as well as a vaccine to prevent it.
Importing foods may be another way this bug has spread. It is causing real concern on a global level. Until that time, it might be wise to stay with your physician for surgery and treatment. The grass might look greener on the other side, but it might be full of pests you really don’t want, and no one else wants them, either. If you must travel to other countries, the same advice that was given during H1N1 to help prevent spreading it, was to practice good hygiene, wash hands often, cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and stay home if you are sick.
Let’s don’t put out the welcome mat for NDM-1. We don’t want him in our town! Do everything you can to stay well.