Superbug Gene Found in New Delhi Waters: Real Health Scare or Hype?

A deadly superbug gene was found in the water supply in India. A superbug is a bacterium that is highly resistant to antibiotics. According to reports, “The study in The Lancet medical journal said that New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) producing bacteria were found in 51 out of 171 samples taken from water pools and rivulets and two out of 50 tap water.” The article was first published in August of 2010. Researchers concluded, “The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and coordinated international surveillance is needed.”

The Lancet medical journal is a UK science journal. The journal’s editor has already apologized publicly for naming the superbug after New Delhi saying it was “an error in judgment,” according to the BBC news.

Name aside, the India government is rejecting the report, claiming it is unfair and exaggerated. In a recent press conference the India government denied the severity of the bug. “The NDM-1 bacteria have been in environment for a long time and are certainly not a threat to public,” R.K. Srivastava, Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) said. They say the hospitals in India are safe and the country is safe for tourism. Officials are afraid the news may make foreigners afraid to visit, saying that naming the bug after India was “malicious propaganda.”

The superbug was first identified in 2008 and there has only been one death from the NDM-1 reported.

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