Geneva: The "New Delhi superbug" remains "a global concern" because of its resistance to all available antibiotics in the world, according to a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official.
"The `New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1)` bacteria carrying these mechanisms is a gene that includes the possibility of making anti-microbials not effective," said Dr
Carmem Lucia Pessoa Da Silva, a WHO official in the department of global alter and response.
The NDM-1 carrying the gene has already been identified in several patients and countries, she said.
WHO today launched the Global Infection Prevention Control Network to address the growing threat from serious infectious epidemics like SARS (severe anti-respiratory
syndrome) which spread to several countries over seven years ago, and anti-microbial resistance.
The NDM-1 became a huge controversy in India last year after a study was published in Lancet, a British medical journal about this new global public health threat.
The Lancet study carried out by a multi-national team reported the spread of bacterial carrying NDM-1 gene that was resistant to multiple different classes of antibiotics.
However, the Union Health Ministry severely contested the findings of the Lancet study which showed that the gene had originated in India. It described the Lancet`s conclusions
as "unfair" maintaining that Indian hospitals are perfectly safe for treatment.
Subsequently, Lancet apologised to the Indian government saying it was an error to name a superbug after New Delhi.
"When it comes to anti-microbial resistance" NDM-1 is recognised within the global public health community, Howard Njoo, director general in Canada`s Public Health Agency, told PTI yesterday.
He said two cases have been reported in Canada last week, arguing that one of them was a local case as the man hasn`t left the his province for quite sometime.
Asked to identify the countries that are affected by NDM-1, the WHO official said "at this moment, I cannot list all the countries where these new kinds of resistance have
been identified," suggesting that this is an evolving problem.
"The other thing that has to be understood is that this type of resistance in itself is a concern and it is a global concern because the pathogen is resistant to all available antibiotics," she said.
"The infection caused by this type of multi-resistant pathogen leaves the patient with very few or no treatment choices," said Dr Carmem, maintaining that the "the germ has been well evaluated and well studied to demonstrate this type of multi-resistant profile."
She said "in terms of epidemiology" it is not clear about the origin of these bacteria.