A new superbug, resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics, has entered UK hospitals. And apparently, it come from Asia.
The new bacteria, which make an enzyme called NDM-1, travelled back with NHS patients who had gone abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery, reports BBC News.
AdvertisementNDM-1 can live inside different bacteria like E.coli, making them resistant to one of the most powerful groups of antibiotics - carbapenems.
Now, experts fear that it could jump to other strains of bacteria that are already resistant to many other antibiotics.
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 it 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.
Doctors and nurses should wash their hands with antibacterial soap, and hospital equipment should be disinfected to stop the spread.
The potential of NDM-1 to become endemic worldwide is "clear and frightening", say the researchers in their Lancet paper.
Dr David Livermore, one of the researchers and who works for the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA), said, "There have been a number of small clusters within the UK, but far and away the greater number of cases appear to be associated with travel and hospital treatment in the Indian subcontinent."
The Department of Health has already put out an alert on the issue, he said.
"We issue these alerts very sparingly when we see new and disturbing resistance," he added.