A study in The Lancet Medical Journal states that the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) producing bacteria was found in 51 out of 171 samples taken from water pools and two out of 50 tap water samples taken in the city. First discovered in 2009, NDM-1 is a gene that enables certain kinds of bacteria to be highly resistant to a majority of antibiotics. While doctors called for urgent global action to prevent the spread of the “superbug” in the most recent research paper, the Indian Council of Medical Research called for calm in the capital city which is home to 16 million residents.
ICMR director-general V. M. Katoch told the Press Trust of India “Hospitals should follow appropriate safety norms, If the report applies to India, then it applies to Europe also.”
The World Health Organization called for monitoring after independent researchers conducted studies in September and October last year and cases of infection were reported around the globe, despite the Indian government dismissing the research as scaremongering. Researchers say the presence of NDM-1-producing bacteria has important implications for New Delhi residents because of their reliance on public water supplies. The transfer of NDM-1 between different bacteria was highest at 30 degrees Celsius which is within the range of temperatures in New Delhi for seven months of the year. The report states that “This period includes the monsoon season, when floods and drain overflows are most likely, which potentially disseminates resistant bacteria,”. The authors also say that “Oral-fecal transmission of bacteria is a problem worldwide, but its potential risk varies with the standards of sanitation. In India, this transmission represents a serious problem because 650 million citizens do not have access to a flush toilet and even more probably do not have access to clean water.” Pakistan and Bangladesh have also been identified as sourcesof NDM-1.