Will Medical Tourism Bring a Scourge of Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs to the U.S.

British scientists clainm that a new antibiotic resistant superbug was brought back to England from medical tourist who had surgery in India. The Indian health ministry said it was unfair to link the bug to India. Indian officials described it as “malicious propaganda”.

The bacteria in question make the NDM-1 enzyme. Approximately About 50 cases have been identified in the UK. Scientists said it could spread globally according to the medical publication Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The Indian health ministry has described the report as “sensational”

The DNA that is associated is a “plasmid”, associated with drug resistance to antibiotics. Plasmids allow the immunity to antibiotics to spread to other strains of bacteria such as E-Coli.

US insurance companies are beginning to consider covering medical tourism procedures in an effort to save money.

A new resistant strain of bacteria could prove disasterous because new antibiotic development has come to a standstill partially due to costs of getting a drug to market. Antibiotics are not big profit centers for drug companies like daily medications can be and so only a few manufacturers are still doing research.

The presence of superbugs more difficult to treat than the current drug resistant MERSA and Flesh eating strep could forever change modern medicine in negative ways. The surgical procedures that have improved the quality of life of so many Americans depend on the ability to protect patients from uncontrolled infection. Artificial hips, knees and other prosthesis are especially vulnerable to infection.

This may be the greatest health threat in the near future but there are no coordinated government efforts to combat this threat.