Unfair to link superbug to India: Government

August 12th, 2010 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) It is unfair to link a multiple drug-resistant superbug detected in Britain to India as a number of such bacteria survive in nature and have been reported from several other countries, said a health ministry official Thursday.
“Several superbugs are surviving in nature and they have been reported from countries like Greece, Israel, the US, Britain, Brazil, Puerto Rico and many others and it is unfair to link it to India,” said V.M. Katoch, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

According to a report in a British scientific journal, a new superbug had been detected in at least 37 cases in that country, mainly among patients who had travelled to India and Pakistan for cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment and transplants.

Scientists have warned that the superbug — an enzyme they have called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 or NDM-1 — could spread worldwide because it is resistant to almost all antibiotics and nothing has been developed to combat it.

When asked why it has been named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 or NDM-1, Katoch said it is a general trend to name the bacteria after the country from where the first strand of bacteria is reported and in this case it is India.

“It is a scientific study and has been (presented) wrongly by the media. There is no public health threat and no need to unnecessarily sensationalise it,” he said.

According to Katoch, infection can happen from several other things - soil, water and E. Coli bacteria in the intestines.

“As of now we don’t have any rules to check hospital-acquired infections. We are also working to set up a cell that will issue guidelines and keep a record of hospital- acquired infections,” he said.

When asked if such reports will affect the booming medical tourism in the country, he said: “of course, it will dent the image of the sector. But by providing proper knowledge and information we can tell the world that its a natural phenomenon and nothing to get scared.”

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