Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beware Superbug in Delhi water

Superbug in Delhi water, say British scientists

New Delhi: A superbug immune to almost all known antibiotics has been found in Delhi’s water. British scientists said they have found the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) 1 gene that makes bacteria highly resistant to all known drugs in the capital’s public water supply used for drinking, washing and cooking. 

    In August last year, after announcing the existence of this superbug created by the NDM1 gene, scientists had said it was hospital-acquired. 
    “Now, we know it is not present in hospital ICUs but is actually freely circulating in Delhi’s environment, both in the water people drink and those that lay stagnant,” Dr Mark Toleman from Cardiff university told TOI. 
    “Drinking contaminated 
water will help the superbug enter our bodies. However, we still don’t know how many in the population are already carrying the superbug,” Toleman said. 
    The most worrying factor was that the NDM1 gene had already spread to the bacteria that causes cholera and dysentery in India, the scientists said. Their findings were published in British medical journal ‘The Lancet Infectious Diseases’ on Thursday. 
    This means when people carrying the 
superbug, especially children, suffer from a bout of cholera and dysentery, it would be nearly impossible to treat them with available antibiotics. 
    The researchers made another important finding. The rate at which the NDM-1 gene is copied and transferred between different bacteria was highest at 30°C — a tem
perature common in Delhi for almost seven months in a year, from April to October. 
    “This will lead to faster transfer of the NDM1 gene between bacteria, making them drug resistant. This also includes the monsoon season, when floods and drain overflows are most likely, which disseminates resistant bacteria,” Dr Toleman said. 
    In the study, scientists investigated how common NDM-1-producing bacteria were in community waste seepage (water pools in streets 
or rivulets) and tap water in urban New Delhi. The researchers collected 171 swabs of seepage water and 50 public tap water samples from sites within a 12km radius of central New Delhi between September and October 2010. 
    These included areas like Connaught Place, Greater Kailash, Kalkaji, Nehru Place, Paharganj, Daryaganj, Kidwai Nagar, Friends Colony, Okhla, Asian Games Villages Complex, Civil Lines and Shahadara.

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