Suberbugs, or bacteria that have resistance to many antibiotics, have been in the news increasingly over the past couple of years. When I was in training in surgery, MRSA/ methicillin resistant Staph Aureus was not that common. Cases were not commonly diagnosed, and patients who had it were isolated in the ir hospital rooms. Today, MRSA cases are increasing in frequency, and even healthy people occasionally contract it.
The latest superbug is from India, and it’s called NDM-1, or New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase. It was first identified in December 2009, and the genetic origins seem to be from India. Originally, it was thought to be from patients who underwent treatment in India and Pakistan, and then flew back to the UK and US. Now, there are several suggestions that NDM-1 may be related to medical tourism from plastic surgery clinics in India.
The concerning thing about NDM- is that it alters the genetic makeup of the bacteria, making it very resistant to pretty much any antibiotic thrown at it. General hygiene policies, such as hand washing, isolation, and similar measure will help to prevent the spread of this superbug. Also, if you are considering medical tourism, or simply have no choice but undergo an emergency procedure in certain parts of the world, you may want to make sure your hygiene and the hygiene of your caretakers and family members are of the highest quality. Frequent handwashing, or use of waterless soaps such as Purell (TM), are an easy and useful first line of defense.
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