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Super Superbugs: the threat revealed

How many times did you or your family members take antibiotics or being prescribed by the physicians to take antibiotics for illness? Sure, you didnt take an account. Sooner or later you had been recovered from the illness due to taking antibiotics as medic. But for sure, in future, not far, if antibiotics are being used unaccountably like that, they will not be at your service at all. The threat comes with the incidence, antibiotic resistance, where a microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic. Genes can be transferred between bacteria in a horizontal fashion by conjugation, transduction, or transformation. Thus a gene for antibiotic resistance which had evolved via natural selection or mutation may be shared. Evolutionary stress such as exposure to antibiotics then selects for the antibiotic resistant trait. The strains of bacteria which are multi-drug resistant are called superbugs.

turn, leads to survival of strains of bacteria that have evolved to resist that antibiotic. The superbugs are actually bacteria that possess a supergene that protects them from all known antibiotics. Such a supergene has been discovered in our neighboring country India that turns bacteria into superbugs, mentioned in Indian media as SUPER superbugs. Latest experiment revealed this gene that makes bugs highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics has been found in bacteria in water supplies in New Delhi used by local people for drinking, washing and cooking! The concerned gene is the gene encoding New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase1(NDM-1) that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of beta-lactam antibiotics. These include the antibiotics of the carbapenem family, which are a mainstay for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Carbapenems are a class of beta-lactam antibiotics that are capable of killing most bacteria by inhibiting the synthesis of one of their cell wall layers. The carbapenems were developed to overcome antibiotic resistance mediated by bacterial beta-lactamase enzymes. However, the blaNDM-1 gene produces NDM1, which is a carbapenemase betalactamase - an enzyme that hydrolyzes and inactivates these carbapenem antibiotics. This is bad because carbapenems are usually the last good antibiotic used when all other antibiotics fail to work. NDM-1, alters other bacteria because it is an enzyme that lives off the bacteria. NDM-1 was first detected in a Klebsiella pneumoniae isolate from a Swedish patient of Indian origin in 2008. It was later

The increasing emergence of superbugs is a direct consequence of antibiotic misuse. Misuse of antibiotic results in incomplete elimination of bacterial infections, which, in

detected in bacteria in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan and Brazil. The most common bacteria that make this enzyme are Gramnegative such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, but the gene for NDM-1 can spread from one strain of bacteria to another by horizontal gene transfer.

radius of central New Delhi between September and October 2010. The results? The NDM-1 gene was found in 2 of the 50 drinking-water samples and 51 of 171 seepage samples. NDM-1 positive bacteria were grown from 2 drinking-water samples and 12 seepage samples. And there was a surprise -- the gene was found in 20 bacterial isolates comprising 14 different species, including 11 species in which NDM-1 has not been previously reported. What's more, the researchers reported in a media statement that it is particularly worrisome that the superbug-causing gene has spread to extremely pathogenic species of bacteria, including Shigella boydii and Vibrio cholerae, which cause dysentery and cholera, respectively. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned that the bacteria could be spreading to other parts of the planet. Patients carrying the NDM-1 hosting bacteria were identified in UK, USA, and Australia who had gone to India in past two years for medication purpose or travelling. Professor Walsh said the research highlighted the urgent need for action to limit the global spread of NDM-1 producing bacteria. He said the study showed there was an urgent need for broad epidemiological and environmental studies to be done, not just in India, but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are source countries for other exported cases of infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated April 7 as World Health Day and under the slogan No action today, no cure tomorrow, it is campaigning about the

Klebsiella pneumoniae, the bacterium in which NDM-1 was first identified. There is no alteration of NDM-1 action over other antibiotics like fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, co-trimoxazole, etc. No new drugs are on the horizon for at least 5-6 years to tackle it and experts are concerned that only a few major drug companies still have strong antibiotic development programs. For the new study, Timothy Walsh from Cardiff University in the UK and his research team investigated how common NDM-1producing bacteria are in community waste seepage (water pools in streets or rivulets) and public tap water in urban New Delhi. Using a variety of sophisticated tests, including DNA probing, the researchers checked for the presence of the NDM-1 gene in bacteria found in the water samples. They collected 171 swabs from seepage water and 50 public tap water samples from sites within a 12 kilometer

risks of life-saving antibiotics losing their healing power. However researchers say, bacteria armed with this gene may only be treated with a couple of highly toxic and expensive antibiotics. Yet prevention of excessive use of antibiotics as well as finding alternate source of medication such as herbals is strongly preferred. What should people do? Don't add to the drug resistance problem, experts say. Don't pressure your doctors for antibiotics if they say they aren't needed, use the ones you are given properly, and try to avoid infections by washing your hands. The gene can spread hand-to-mouth, which makes good hygiene very important. Be alarmed!