LONDON People traveling to India for medical procedures have brought back to Britain a new gene that allows any bacteria to become a superbug, and scientists are warning this type of drug resistance could soon appear worldwide.
Though already widespread in India, the new superbug gene is being increasingly spotted in Britain and elsewhere. Experts warn the booming medical tourism industries in India and Pakistan could fuel a surge in antibiotic resistance, as patients import dangerous bugs to their home countries.
The superbug gene, which can be swapped between different bacteria to make them resistant to most drugs, has so far been identified in 37 people who returned to the U.K. after undergoing surgery in India or Pakistan.
The resistant gene has also been detected in Australia, Canada, the U.S., the Netherlands and Sweden. The researchers say since many Americans and Europeans travel to India and Pakistan for elective procedures like cosmetic surgery, it was likely the superbug gene would spread worldwide.