13 Aug 2010

Three cases of new superbug in Australia

10:03 am on 13 August 2010

Australia has recorded three cases of a new class of superbug, the most resistant to antibiotics yet seen, which is on the rise in Britain.

A growing number of patients jetting out for "medical tourism" are blamed for the increasingly impervious bacteria arriving on Australia's shores.

The ABC reports the cases are in Queensland, Sydney and Canberra.

Professor Peter Collignon, head of infectious diseases at Canberra Hospital, said at least two of the (infected) people had been in hospitals in India and had come back to Australia.

Superbugs are tougher versions of common bacteria that adapt to live and infect patients in hospitals.

Those in the new class share a recently discovered gene, called NDM-1, which can jump across different species but usually those bacteria that infect the gut or urinary tract such as E coli.

The ABC reports these NDM-1 superbugs have shown resilience to the broadest range of antibiotics yet seen.