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Superbug found in China

26th October 2010

Health officials in China have announced the country's first ever cases of the superbug NDM-1, warning hospitals and clinics to be on high alert for the bacteria.

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The bacteria, which is resistant to a number of drugs, was confirmed in two cases in the southwestern region of Ningxia and the southeastern province of Fujian.

Health ministry official Xiao Yonghong, director of a national drug-resistant bacteria surveillance network, said hospitals should step up monitoring and sterilisation.

According to Ni Daxin of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) the Ningxia samples were taken from faeces of two infants born on 8 March  and 11 March .

Both babies were underweight and developed diarrhoea and respiratory problems soon after birth, with one suffering an oxygen deficiency.

But Ni said that their illness had nothing to do with the presence of NDM-1.

Both babies had made a full recovery and remained healthy following discharge from hospital, he added.

In the Fujian case, the sample came from an 83-year-old lung cancer patient who died on 11 June . The role of the NDM-1 bacteria in that patient was unclear, Ni said.

The samples were tested in China CDC's laboratories and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, from among a total of 3,500 samples.

The length of time between the collection of samples and testing meant it would now be impossible to trace the infection route of the NDM-1 bacteria, Ni said.

But he said people should not panic because the bacteria did not spread through human-to-human contact, only in medical settings like hospitals and clinics.

China CDC now plans to expand its pool of samples to be tested for NDM-1.

Xiao said the network he heads was established in 2005 and covers 170 top-level hospitals across China.

Most prevalent in South Asia, NDM-1 has so far also been found in Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, the United States and Sweden.


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