India Superbug Germs Resistant to Antibiotics

There is new concern for scientists and medical researchers who fear that the spread of a "superbug" in India would cause a medical emergency given that they are virtually resistant to antibiotics.

Local media reports that recently, in separate incidents, three Americans were treated for serious urinary tract infections caused by bacteria which have been found to be highly resistant to antibiotics.

The bacteria, known as New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase or NDM-1, is common throughout India and each of the three Americans had recently spent time in the country, according to CBS.

These new developments add to new fears of "medical tourism" and the impact that has on spreading local diseases and bacteria around the globe.

Medical tourism is a practice growing in popularity given the high cost of medical treatments primarily involving cosmetic surgery or other treatment not covered by medical insurance, and is reportedly affecting the United States and England in particular. People are finding that traveling to other countries will save them a great deal on their medical expenses.

"India also provides cosmetic surgery for Europeans and Americans, and it is likely the bacteria will spread worldwide," according to scientists who published the findings in The Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal.

And though NDM-1 is believed to have originated in India, scientists say the gene is increasingly common in Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is also found to be infecting people who return to western countries after their travels.

What makes this new form of bacteria so dangerous is its ability to jump and mutate across different bacterial species. Scientists have discovered the bacteria in two common bacteria species, E coli and K pneumoniae, according to Karthikeyan Kumarasamy of the University of Madras.

"We have found that the superbug has the potential to get copied and transferred between bacteria, allowing it to spread rapidly. If it spreads to an already hard-to-treat bacterial infection, it can be turn more dangerous," Kumarasamy said.

Doctors recommend that people wash their hands several times a day to prevent bacterial infections and to follow doctor's directions when prescribed antibiotics.