Superbug with new gene found in Scotland

A CASE of a new drug-resistant bacteria that could lead to the end of antibiotics was diagnosed in Scotland last year, health experts have revealed.

The emergence of a new gene, NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo--lactamase), has allowed bacteria to become highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, scientists have warned.

NDM-1 spread in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but it was also found in 37 patients from the UK, who travelled to India or Pakistan for medical procedures including cosmetic surgery, according to an article published in the Lancet.

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Health Protection Scotland confirmed the superbug had been found in Scotland, but would not reveal where or when, on the grounds that it could lead to identification of the source.

Timothy Walsh of Cardiff University and his international colleagues wrote in the Lancet: "The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and co-ordinated international surveillance is needed,"

The gene was mostly found in E coli, a common cause of urinary tract infections and pneumonia, which is highly resistant to antibiotics.

The paper said several of the UK patients had travelled to India or Pakistan for surgical procedures within the past year.

The authors wrote: "India also provides cosmetic surgery for other Europeans and Americans, and it is likely NDM-1 will spread worldwide."

Dr Anne Eastaway, consultant microbiologist at Health Protection Scotland and programme leader of the Scottish Government's Antimicrobial Surveillance group, said: "In terms of the Scottish population, there should not be alarm, because this is not something that is established.

"It is a matter of concern because these enzymes can break down antibiotics, in particular three major classes that we use for treating infection."

She added that the situation was being monitored closely.

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