India Downplays “Superbug” Threat

India has dismissed a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases that warns of a potentially deadly and drug-resistant “superbug” spreading from the South Asian country and neighboring Pakistan.

The Indian government said the alarm being raised against the NDM-1 bacterial gene, or New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1, was overblown. India also suspects that some giant pharmaceutical companies may be fuelling the fire in order to malign the reputation of the South Asian country, especially its booming medical tourism industry. “It may be a sinister design of multinational companies around the world,” opposition leader S.S. Ahluwalia said.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also refuted the accuracy of the study. “It (superbug) is universal and is found in the intestine of humans and animals. It is wrong to say that it is found only in India and Pakistan. They say it was found in patients who visit India and Pakistan. The study nowhere mentions if the bacteria were found even before those persons visited India,” Azad said.

In a report, researchers warned that the NDM-1 has great potential to be a worldwide public health menace. The report said at least 37 Britons have been found to have brought the “superbug” to the U.K. following medical trips to South Asia. Many Westerners travel to South Asia and some Southeast Asian countries to seek medical treatment due to the low cost of health care in the region.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.