Drug-resistant superbugs found in three US states

BOSTON – An infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: Bacteria that have been made resistant to nearly all antibiotics by an alarming new gene have sickened people in three states and are popping up all over the world, health officials report.

The US cases and two others in Canada all involve people who had recently received medical care in India, where the problem is widespread. A British medical journal revealed the risk last month in an article describing dozens of cases in Britain in people who had gone to India for medical procedures.

How many deaths the gene may have caused is unknown; there is no central tracking of such cases. So far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections.

Scientists have long feared this – a very adaptable gene that hitches onto many types of common germs and confers broad drug resistance, creating dangerous “superbugs.”

“It’s a great concern,” because drug resistance has been rising and few new antibiotics are in development, said Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

“It’s just a matter of time” until the gene spreads more widely person-to-person, he said.

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