Experts soothe fears over scary gene

08:05, August 16, 2010      

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Chinese medical experts tried to reassure the public Sunday that a recently discovered gene, which is carried in bacteria resistant to many strong antibiotics, will not turn into a global epidemic and that people should not worry.

The gene, which was discovered in bacteria found in some patients who had surgery in South Asia, could turn bacteria into something resistant to all types of antibiotics, reports say.

The gene reportedly originated in South Asia but has spread to people from other countries.

Experts tried to clear the air after the media reported on the developing story. The reports said researchers in the UK last week discovered the new gene they named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1.

Thousands of people on the Internet compared it to SARS or A(H1N1) influenza. But authorities say it is not the case.

Wang Guiqiang, director at the center for infectious disease, Peking University First Hospital, told Nanfang Daily that NDM-1 is not like SARS or A(H1N1) that would spread on a massive scale and attack people directly.

"Quite a number of media reports are wrong," He Jianfei, director of infectious disease research center at the center for disease control in Guangdong Province, was quoted as saying by China News Service (CNS).

He said most of the bacteria carrying NDM-1 have been treatable with a combination of different antibiotics, including tigecycline, polymyxin and vancomycin.

NDM-1 was widely reported by the media after an article appeared in the Lancet Infectious Disease journal last week. It said that NDM-1 was becoming more common in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan with more than 70 people infected.

It said several British patients had recently returned from India or Pakistan after undergoing surgery there.

It was reported that over 150 people were infected worldwide and that an unnamed Belgian man had died in June as a result of the superbug.

There is no report of NDM- 1 infections in China, the CNS reported Sunday, quoting Huang Fei, deputy director of the public health department in Guangdong Province.

By Zou Le Global Times


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