Medicine

Call for change of name of ‘super bug'

Calling for immediately correcting the “error'' in naming New Delhi Metallo Beta Lactamase-I (NDM-1) or the super bug after the Indian capital, Abdul Ghafur – the Chennai-based infectious diseases consultant – who first detected the bacteria in India has said the alliance between the enzyme and New Delhi was only hypothetical and not proven. He has also said the medical community here “must join hands with the international effort in tackling the antimicrobial resistance.''

In a statement issued here, Dr. Ghafur said he strongly believed that the name of NDM-1 must be changed to remove the words ‘New Delhi,' as it would help in removing the stigma and result in better combined effort by all of the medical community in tackling antibiotic resistance. “After all, science is for the benefit of humanity. This name change must be done as early as possible,'' he has said while suggesting ‘Newly Derived or Newly Defined' as alternatives to identify the enzyme.

The name NDM-1 has obviously hurt the feelings of the Indian medical community, even though the routine of naming the bug after a patient or place has been followed. In 2008, Dr. Walsh and his team identified bacteria, possessing a potent gene which can make most of the antibiotics worthless, in a Swedish patient who had previously received medical treatment in New Delhi. At that time the bug or the enzyme did not generate any controversy, probably NDM-1 was nothing more than a scientific name, Dr. Ghafur explained.

Bugs possessing this enzyme had transformed their status from a research curiosity to a significant menace, as they had serious public health implications. It was quite natural that nobody would like the name of their capital city to be associated with such an enzyme or bug, he said.

Rejecting the argument that Indian medical tourism would be affected by the name NDM-1, as antimicrobial resistance was a global phenomenon, Dr. Ghafur cited the example of KPC carbapenemase gene, one similar to that of NDM-1, which originated in America and then spread to Greece and other parts of the world. “It is indeed a fact that antimicrobial over use is quite rampant in India, but that should not be an excuse for the west to deposit all the blame on our country. Mediterranean countries have a similar high rate of antibiotic resistance but I haven't yet heard any western authorities blaming these countries on the issue of resistance.''

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 7:27:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/medicine-and-research/Call-for-change-of-name-of-lsquosuper-bug/article15511734.ece

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