Information on the new superbug threat: NDM-1 (New Delhi-Metallo-1)

E. coliNDM-1, known more fully as New Delhi-Metallo-1 or New Delhi metallo--lactamase-1, is a serious global, drug-resistant superbug threat. This page aims to provide you with more information about the bug in a simple, easy-to-understand format.

Quick facts (last updated August 2010):

NDM-1 is known to be hosted by two different bacteria: the gut bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Klebsiella pneumoniaanother whcih can invade the lungs.

NDM-1 infects people with weak immune systems, in particular those who have recently had surgery. Infection can cause wound infections, septicaemia, pneumonia, gastro-enteritis and even death.

Some strains of NDM-1 are resistant to all known antibiotics and it is thought that NDM-1 could prove to be more difficult to tackle than Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile (
C. difficile).

The latest strains of NDM-1, known as enterobacteriaceae, produce enzymes that counteract carbapenems, some of the most powerful antibiotics used by doctors to tackle the most virulent infections.

Doctors are worried because the DNA code for the enzymes produced by NDM-1 could jump from one strain of bacteria to another. If this were to happen, it could result in highly dangerous infections which could be spread from person to person.

There is already some evidence of NDM-1 being passed from person to person in hospitals.

The NDM-1 superbug is already widespread in parts of Asia such as the Indian subcontinent, and has spread to a number of countries including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

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