Why in news about Superbug NDM-1?
- In the global spread of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria, scientists have found a “superbug” gene — first detected in New Delhi over a decade back — in one of the last “pristine” places on Earth that is some 12,870 km away.
- A 70-year-old US woman has died in 2016 because of the superbug NDM-1.
What is super bug ?
A superbug, also called multiresistant, is a bacterium that carries several resistance genes. These are resistant to multiple antibiotics and are able to survive even after exposure to one or more antibiotics
What is Superbug blaNDM-1 in news?
- Soil samples taken in Svalbard — a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole — have now confirmed the spread of blaNDM-1 (called New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) into the High Arctic.
- The blaNDM-1 and other ARGs were found in Arctic soils that were likely spread through the faecal matter of birds, other wildlife and human visitors to the area.
- This Antibiotic-Resistant Gene (ARG), originally found in Indian clinical settings, conditionally provides multi-drug resistance (MDR) in microorganisms, a/c to the research.
- British scientists later found the “superbug” in New Delhi’s public water supply.
- Since then, the resistant gene has been found in over 100 countries, including new variants.
What causes them to mutate like that?
- Like any living organism, bacteria can mutate as they multiply. Also like any living organism, bacteria have a strong evolutionary drive to survive.
- So, over time, a select few will mutate in particular ways that make them resistant to antibiotics.
- Then, when antibiotics are introduced, only the bacteria that can resist that treatment can survive to multiply further, proliferating the line of drug-resistant bugs.
Why is Antibiotic Resistance a Big Deal?
- The discovery of antibiotics less than a century ago was a turning point in public health that has saved countless lives.
- Although antibiotic resistance develops naturally with normal bacterial mutation, humans are speeding it up by using antibiotics improperly.
- According to a research, now, 2 million people a year in the US develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die of those infections.
Why is the medical community worried?
- Basically, superbugs are becoming more powerful and widespread than ever. Medical experts are afraid that we’re one step away from deadly, untreatable infections, since the mcr-1 E.coli is resistant to that last-resort antibiotic Colistin.
- Antibiotic-resistance passed relatively easily from one bacteria to the next, since it is transmitted by way of loose genetic material that most bacteria have in common.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is afraid of a post-antibiotic world, where loads of bacteria are superbugs. Already, infections like tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and pneumonia are becoming harder to treat with typical antibiotics.
What Can We Do?
- First step would be to limit antibiotic use. If a patient has a virus, for instance, an antibiotic won’t work, so doctors shouldn’t prescribe antibiotics even if the patient insists.
- And when patients do need antibiotics, it’s important to make sure they take the full course to kill off every last infection-causing germ. Otherwise the strong survive, mutate, and spread.
- As a society, curbing antibiotic use in healthy animals used in human food production is another important step.