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Travel Linked to Spread of Antibiotic Resistance Gene

Researchers find gene in patients in India and Pakistan, and those who visited from U.K.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A gene that creates antibiotic resistance has been found to be widespread in Enterobacteriaceae of patients in India and Pakistan and in patients from the United Kingdom who have visited India or Pakistan for elective surgery; this could indicate an emerging public health threat, according to research published online Aug. 11 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Karthikeyan K. Kumarasamy, of the University of Madras in India, and colleagues studied Enterobacteriaceae isolates from two centers in India (Chennai in south India and Haryana in north India) and from the United Kingdom's national reference laboratory, looking for antibiotic susceptibility and the presence of the carbapenem resistance gene bla New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1 (NDM-1).

The researchers found 44, 26, 37, and 73 isolates with NDM-1 in Chennai, Haryana, the United Kingdom, and other sites in India and Pakistan, respectively. The gene was found predominantly among Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, both of which showed high resistance to all antibiotics except tigecycline and colistin. Of the U.K. patients with NDM-1, many had traveled in the last year to India or Pakistan -- often to undergo elective (including cosmetic) surgery -- or had ties to those countries.

"The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and coordinated international surveillance is needed," the authors write.

The research was supported in part by Wyeth. Kumarasamy disclosed financial ties to Wyeth, and a co-author disclosed ties to multiple pharmaceutical companies.

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