Superbug could be more widespread

2011-11-02 12:38

Johannesburg - The New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) superbug, which caused four Gauteng deaths, may be "more widespread" than previously thought, a microbiology expert said on Wednesday.

"The fact that unrelated NDM-1 producing bacteria have been found in a patient in a public sector hospital would indicate that, if we look harder, this problem is more widespread than we think," said Professor Adrian Duse.

Duse, the head of the outbreak response unit of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was responding to questions about a recent outbreak of the superbug.

Ten patients at the Life Glynnwood Hospital had been diagnosed with NDM-1 and another at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

"Early detection by screening patients means that [Life Glynnwood Hospital], because of its proactive screening programme, was more likely to find NDM-1 carrying patients than in other healthcare facilities where screening might have been less intensive," Duse said.


NDM-1 is an enzyme produced by bacteria, making it resistant to antibiotics.

On Saturday, a fourth patient infected with the enzyme died at the Glynnwood hospital. It could not be determined to what extent NDM-1 had contributed to the four deaths, as each of these patients were seriously ill with other medical conditions.

"Healthy people, the general public, typically don’t get sick from NDM-1 producing bacteria," Duse said.
Those with underlying medical conditions were more likely to become ill from NDM-1 producing bacteria.

"The symptoms depend on the body site where these organisms are found.... If the organisms for example infect the lungs you would see the symptoms of pneumonia (like any other bacterium causing a lung infection) and so on," he said.

Some people might carry NDM-1, but experience no symptoms whatsoever.

Not like flu

The Life Glynnwood Hospital had strict precautions in place to prevent the spread of the superbug to its patients and staff.

As it is not typically airborne - like influenza, for example - separate ventilation systems and masks were not necessary to contain NDM-1, Duse explained.

Staff wore gloves and aprons to prevent the spread to other areas of the hospital, and the two remaining NDM-1 patients were kept in isolation wards.

Standard hospital cleaning and disinfection procedures were adequate to dealing with the superbug, he said.

Due to global travel, it has been detected in patients in public and private facilities around the world. It is named a "superbug" due to its resistance to antibiotics.

  • Jou - 2011-11-02 13:03


      Dougir - 2011-11-02 13:20

      It says you need an underlying illness to activate the virus and make it dangerous..... unfortunately stupidity is not an illness....

      Paul - 2011-11-02 13:40

      @Jou Bird brain.

      Bill - 2011-11-02 16:51

      Animals are immune from it Jou...!

  • Grim - 2011-11-02 13:03

    Darwinian evolution on this level is so dangerous. With all the preventative measures being taken with 'modern' medicine its only a matter of time until one of the batria groups becomes a serious problem and none of current medcine and antibodies would be able to contain it. MAybe we need to look at using a process where we slightly reduse the severity of the drugs used to controll thses bacteria so they become less resistant to them and then strike back again. Wish i knew more about this. Funny no comments on this yet. Where is SA'n mind set? clearlyin the wrong place.

      Carlin - 2011-11-02 13:32

      I think you are correct. I always direct my GP to prescribe the minimum and weakest drug he deems adequate to my condition. As a virus canot be cured I don't bother to visit him unless there is secondary infection needing treatment that homeopathic remedies and vitamin supplements can't provide.

      Grim - 2011-11-02 14:08

      @Carlin.. indeed i went to this lecture a few months back in the UK and what an amazing man. He explained exactly what you are have said about using the weakest form that is available and needed.

  • Duncan - 2011-11-02 13:23

    The Goverment is only making excuses for the Aids epademic because its goy out of control and they don't know how to handle it. EXCUSES!!

      Yusuf - 2011-11-02 14:14

      what has this virus gotto do with the aids virus?

  • Fiona - 2011-11-02 13:31

    Should we consider taking extra injections before leaving to New Delhi?

      Deon - 2011-11-02 13:59

      Maybe a Vitamine B co booster and lots of Vitamine C could help. No known injection to prevent this.

      StarStruck - 2011-11-02 14:52


  • Maronza - 2011-11-02 14:15

    Now we have something called a New Delhi Superbug. At least it is a bacteria not a virus although it is said to be fatal. Shoooo living in these days! No wonder our life expetancy has been shortened.

  • Nikki Bodenstein - 2011-11-04 01:20

    Extra No just stay in New Dehli for at least 6 months.

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