Health tourism in India is booming due to cheaper medical bills, but this entails a risk of spreading a new superbug. Prof. Tim Walsh from the University of Cardiff isolated a new gene NDM-1 (producing New Deli beta lactamase 1) which confers antibiotic resistance to its bacterial host. NDM-1 producing bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics and worryingly even carbapenems which are reserved as a last resort in serious infections. Kumarasamy et al., identified 44 NDM-1 positive strains in Chennai, 26 in Haryana, 37 in the UK, and 73 in other sites in India and Pakistan. Researchers postulate that the NDM-1 bacteria have been brought into Britain by medical tourists returning from India or Pakistan after cosmetic surgery. Authorities in India are not happy about the criticism and issued their dismay in a statement issued by the ministry of health. They say that is irrational to link the NDM-1 to a specific country or its antibiotic policies. Whether the Indian antibiotic policies are to blame or the increase in medical tourism the fact still remains that the occurrence of NDM-1 producing bacteria with multi drug resistance is a serious problem.
“If this emerging public health threat is ignored, sooner or later the medical community could be confronted with carbapenem-resistant (bacteria) that cause common infections, resulting in treatment failures with substantial increases in health-care costs,” Johann Pitout from the University of Calgary in Canada wrote in a commentary in same journal.
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