Superbug threatens antibiotic efficacy
The discovery of a highly resistant superbug raises questions about the public health implications of so much global mobility - and who suffers the most in the case of drug-resistant pandemics.
The South Africa Node writes,
"'Health tourists’ flocking to India and Pakistan for cosmetic surgery have carried a new class of antibiotic-resistant superbugs to Britain, and the bug could be spread worldwide. The NDM-1 gene, discovered in 2009 by Cardiff University’s Timoth Walsh, in a Swedish patient admitted to hospital in India, is able to jump across different species of bacteria making it highly drug resistant. The new NDM-1 bacteria are resistant even to carbapenems, a group of antibiotics often reserved as a last resort for emergency treatment for multi-drug resistant bugs.
Researchers warn that the emergence of these new drug-resistant strains could become a serious global public health problem as the major threat shifts toward a broad class of bacteria - including those armed with the NDM-1 gene - known as ‘Gram-negative’. A professor of Microbiology explained that the '"we desperately need - in the 21st century it sounds ridiculous that we don't have - a globally-funded surveillance system'"
The South Africa Node writes, "Limited access to healthcare, proper sanitation and the overall poor living conditions of many of the poor poses the threat of high mortality rates, should bugs such as NDM-1 take hold in Africa. This is especially significant for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, infants and children and those infected with AIDS. However, legitimate efforts to develop and administer effective antibiotics and vaccines may be confounded by profit-motivated hoaxes such as that of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic alert driven by the World Health Organisation."
Sources:South Africa Node Aug 2010, pg. 10