8/11/10

New antibiotic resistant superbug coming to Canada. The good news? Normal hospital infection control can help stop the spread.

A study published today in the famous academic journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases flags the emergence of a new antibiotic resistant superbug and concludes:  "The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and co-ordinated international surveillance is needed."

The bottom line: a new gene confers high levels of resistance of gut bacteria to almost all antibiotics, leading to potentially life-threatening pneumonia and urinary tract infections. 

While NDM-1 is believed to have started in India, it is now present in Britain and similar infections have been found in Canada.  The BBC comments:

NDM-1 can exist inside different bacteria, like E.coli, and it makes them resistant to one of the most powerful groups of antibiotics - carbapenems.  These are generally reserved for use in emergencies and to combat hard-to-treat infections caused by other multi-resistant bacteria.  And experts fear NDM-1 could now jump to other strains of bacteria that are already resistant to many other antibiotics. Ultimately, this could produce dangerous infections that would spread rapidly from person to person and be almost impossible to treat.  At least one of the NDM-1 infections the researchers analysed was resistant to all known antibiotics.

Study co-author Dr David Livermore said: "The findings of this paper show that resistance to one of the major groups of antibiotics, the carbapenems, is widespread in India.  This is important because carbapenems were often the last 'good' antibiotics active against bacteria that already were resistant to more standard drugs. We have now also identified bacteria with this type of resistance - NDM - in around 50 patients in the UK."

The Guardian reports: 'Alarmingly, there are only two antibiotics that still work against NDM 1-producing bacteria, and the likelihood is that they will also be overcome before long. "In many ways, this is it," he (study author Tim Walsh) said. "This is potentially the end. There are no antibiotics in the pipeline that have activity against NDM 1-producing Enterobacteriaceae." '

The good news (so to speak) is this comment from the researchers to the BBC:  "The way to stop NDM-1...is to rapidly identify and isolate any hospital patients who are infected. Normal infection control measures, such as disinfecting hospital equipment and doctors and nurses washing their hands with antibacterial soap, can stop the spread."

Top quality hospital housekeeping becomes more and more vital, even as Ontario cuts and contracts out. 

 
dallan@cupe.ca

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