Experts have warned that a new superbug that is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics has entered UK hospitals
Scientists are claiming bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 have travelled back with NHS patients who have been abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery.
It was found attached to E.coli bacteria that cause urinary tract and respiratory infections.
Professor David Livermore, from the Health Protection Agency, who co-wrote the research with Professor Timothy Walsh said, ‘The potential for wider international spread and for NDM-1 to become endemic worldwide are clear and frightening.’
Thirty-seven cases have been reported so far in the UK, but scientists warn in the journal of Lancet Infectious Diseases that the infection has an alarming potential to spread and diversify.
The enzyme can jump easily from one bacterium to another and experts fear it will start attaching itself to more dangerous diseases causing them to become resistant to antibiotics.
Worryingly, Professor Walsh has said, ‘We have a bleak window of maybe ten years, where we are going to have to use the antibiotics we have very wisely, but also grapple with the reality that we have nothing to treat these infections with.’
The Health Protection Agency has issued an alert but does not know the full scale of the problem.
Professor Livermore added that the superbug would not normally be a threat to humans but it could combine with more severe conditions to pose a health risk.