The Associated Press is reporting that antibiotic-resistant bacteria - made resistant by an alarming new gene - have sickened people in three states and are popping up all over the world.
The drug-resistant bacteria are already a widespread problem in India, and all of the cases reported in the U.S. and Canada cases of this bug have been linked to people who recently recieved medical care in Indian facilities. Dozens of cases were also seen in Britain in people who had recently returned from India where they had undergone medical procedures. Because of it's origins, scientists have named the gene NDM-1 after New Delhi.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. cases that occurred this year were seen in patients from California, Massachusetts and Illinois. And so far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections.
The CDC is urging doctors to look for the NDM-1 gene in people recently returning from India or Pakistan - countries that according to officials - have the right conditions for widespread transmission.
It's obvious we're losing the war against these "superbugs," even here in the U.S., and here are five reasons why...
1. Overutilization of antibiotics. Drugs are overused not only in the U.S., but across the globe, where medications are often obtained without prescriptions.
2. Using antibiotics as a "cure-all." Patients are prescribed medications for all kinds of different ailments, and the prescription is not always appropriate. And many patients stop taking their antibiotic as soon as they start to feel better, rather than taking it as directed for the duration of time it was prescribed - which can help strengthen bugs over a period of time.
3. Medical tourism. It's out of control. Americans are going abroad to find cheaper rates for medical care and procedures, but they often have no idea how safe the facilities are, or how credentialed the doctors are because of varying guidelines. We keep hearing that 90,000 people get hospital-acquired infections like MRSA each year in the U.S. - well think of how high that number would be if you factor in all the Americans getting these infections while traveling abroad in other countries for medical care.
4. Massive legal and illegal immigration. I've said it before and I'll say it again_ illegal immigration does not allow enough time to identify people coming to this country with diseases.
5. Lack of research and development. From the pharmaceutical companies to the federal government, there is not enough money being put into finding new ways to fight these subversive bugs.
It is not yet known how many people - if any - have died from this new superbug, which lab tests showed was not affected by the last resort class of antibiotics doctors use to treat drug-resistant superbugs. All three patients involved in the U.S. cases survived, but health officials fear the global spread of this new superbug. Officials urge physicians to put patients in medical isolation and check their close contacts when they find a case of this new bug.