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NDM-1, a new superbug that is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics, has entered UK hospitals, experts warn.
They say bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 have travelled back with NHS patients who went abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery. Although there have only been about 50 cases identified in the UK so far, scientists fear it will go global.
Tight surveillance and new drugs are needed says Lancet Infectious Diseases. NDM-1 can exist inside different bacteria, like E.coli, and it makes them resistant to one of the most powerful groups of antibiotics – carbapenems.
These are generally reserved for use in emergencies and to combat hard-to-treat infections caused by other multi-resistant bacteria.
And experts fear NDM-1 could now jump to other strains of bacteria that are already resistant to many other antibiotics.
Ultimately, this could produce dangerous infections that would spread rapidly from person to person and be almost impossible to treat.
At least one of the NDM-1 infections the researchers analysed was resistant to all known antibiotics.
Similar infections have been seen in the US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands and international researchers say that NDM-1 could become a major global health problem. Infections have already been passed from patient to patient in UK hospitals. The way to stop NDM-1, say researchers, is to rapidly identify and isolate any hospital patients who are infected.
Normal infection control measures, such as disinfecting hospital equipment and doctors and nurses washing their hands with antibacterial soap, can stop them from spreading. And currently, most of the bacteria carrying NDM-1 have been treatable using a combination of different antibiotics.
But the potential of NDM-1 to become endemic worldwide is “clear and frightening”, say the researchers in The Lancet infectious diseases paper.
Silver based antimicrobial additive Biomaster has been used worldwide to combat cross-infection in health care environments and is currently in use in the UK in over 50 different applications.
The resistance seen by the NDM-1 is specific to the beta-lactam family of antibiotics and not to other antimicrobial agents, so additives such as Biomaster will continue to provide long term antimicrobial protection in the substrates into which they are incorporated into.
*Please note that Addmaster was acquired by the Polygiene Group AB in January 2021, so all news articles prior to that date will still be branded as Addmaster.