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New Drug-Resistant 'Superbug' Reaches U.S. Shores
Date:9/15/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A new antibiotic-resistant germ that apparently has it origins in India has sickened a handful of people in North America, with three of the cases reported in the United States, health officials said Tuesday.

But the bacterium -- designated New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase NDM-1 -- is a close genetic cousin of another bacterium that's been present in the United States for many years. Both germs produce an enzyme that makes them resistant to a group of antibiotics called carbapenems, which include drugs such as penicillin and ampicillin.

"NDM-1 is a newly recognized mechanism of resistance that allows certain bacteria to become resistant to certain antibiotics," said Dr. Alexander J. Kallen, a medical epidemiologist and outbreak response coordinator with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

"Unfortunately, carbapenem resistance is not uncommon even in the United States," Kallen added. "We have our own homegrown version of NDM-1 that has been recognized for quite a few years."

In the United States, carbapenem-resistant bacteria -- designated carbapenem-resistant carbapenemase (KPC) -- are usually transmitted in health-care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, and are typically spread from patient to patient from contaminated surfaces and hands, he said.

While none of the patients in the United States died from their infections with the NDM-1 germ from India, people should be very concerned about this new breed of germs that are showing resistance to carbapenem antibiotics, Kallen said.

"What is new in NDM-1 is a new mechanism that produces a strain [of bacterium] that looks the same as KPC," Kallen said.

NDM-1 appears to have started in India and is now found in countries such as Canada, Pakistan and some nations in Europe. Some people have died
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