New Superbug Prompts B.C. Hospital Screening

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A new superbug has prompted B.C. hospitals to start screening people who have been hospitalized in high-risk countries like India, Pakistan and Greece.

NDM-1 is an enzyme recently found in several types of bacteria, including some strains of E. coli. NDM-1 — or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase — makes the microbes resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics.

The enzyme can infect people who aren't even sick, and patients might not know they are carrying it.

Dr. Pamela Kibsey, the medical director of infection prevention control for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, says hospitals can do little but try to contain it.

She says such patients are isolated for 48 hours, hygiene practices are stepped up and those who come in contact with the patient are also screened.

"The real scary bugs are this generation of the enteric bacteria … like this NDM-1 that are resistant to everything and the drug companies aren't making any new drugs,” she said.

"We have one antibiotic that we might be able to use for this but it's quite a toxic antibiotic."

There have been 45 cases of NDM-1 in B.C., with most found in the Lower Mainland over the past two years.

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