‘Superbug’ report doctored, says author

Lead author has dismissed the conclusion that the bacteria was transmitted from India.

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2010, 20:38 PM IST

Chennai: With a report of an antibiotic
resistant superbug originating from India creating an uproar,
its lead author has dismissed as hypothetical the conclusion
that the bacteria was transmitted from the country and said
some interpretations were made without his knowledge.

Karthikeyan Kumarasawamy said there was nothing to
worry or fear about the superbug, termed New Delhi
metallo-beta-lactamese.

He also said some interpretations in the report were
written without his knowledge. "Without my knowledge some of
the interpretations were written in the report", he said.

The Department of Health in UK has already put out an
alert on the issue, raising the hackles of the Indian medical
fraternity.

The Union Health Ministry also came out with a
hard-hitting statement against the report, saying the contents
of the article present a "frightening picture" which is not
supported by any scientific data.

"The media has speculated the whole matter. That the
bacteria was transmitted from our country is just
hypothetical. Unless we analyse samples from across the globe
to confirm its presence, we can only speculate", Erode-based
Karthikeyan said.

Karthikeyan, research student at A L Mudaliar
postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, co-authored
the research article with Timothy Walsh, published in
`Lancet`.

He said the NDM-1 bacteria was not a big issue and
that the "bacteria was not that big and vulnerable as H1NI,
which currently exists."

Karthikeyan said details about NDM-1 bacteria have
already been published in an Indian journal by a hospital in
Mumbai six months ago. "Our intention in publishing the
research study is just to show its prevalence in India."

Karthikeyan said many countries have been doing
research on this bacteria, which has a different name in each
country. "Recently in Seoul and in Germany scientists found
similar kinds of virus. But no one created this much hype."

"I am a little bit worried that the whole issue has
been taken up at Parliament level", he said, adding some
sections of the media had repeatedly "misinterpreted" the
issue.

After the study`s findings, the medical fraternity
across India slammed the report, saying it was apparently
aimed at hitting India`s booming medical tourism market that
was taking away business from the West.

"Medical tourism will not be affected in our country.

The study only tells about the bacteria and not about its
spreading activities," he said.

Karthikeyan termed as "untrue" that NDM-1 bacteria can
resist all medicines. "Of course it (NDM-1) bacteria can
resist some medicines. There will be medicines that will
resist this bacteria. Scientists will soon find that".

The study, based on a survey of patients in Indian
cities, said a multi-drug resistant strain of bacteria was
spreading from Indian hospitals. The bug that enters the
bloodstream through infected hospital equipment could lead to
multiple organ failure, it said.

Madras University yesterday honoured Karthikeyan for
his research.

Asked if he would continue research on NDM-1,he said
he would do so. "I will continue work in this area and also to
eradicate this gene and develop strong drugs".

"I will stay in India and continue to do research
activities for the benefit of my people", he said.

PTI