South Asian Superbug Claims First Life

Warning signs alert staff and visitors to wash their hands at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A Belgian man became the first person to die from what is being called the South Asian "superbug," a doctor reported this past Friday, the 13th. The death has fueled fears that the antibiotic-resistant germ could spread worldwide. The superbug was first discovered in 2009, in a Swedish patient who had been hospitalized in India.

"The epicentre of the presence of this bacteria seems to be India and Pakistan, but it appears through contact and travel, its spread is becoming wider," Glupczynski, a bacteriologist, said.

British medical journal The Lancet reported that 37 Britons who had received some form of medical treatment in South Asia were carriers for the bacteria. Three cases have been reported in Australia.

"The potential of NDM-1 to be a worldwide public health problem is great, and co-ordinated international surveillance is needed," said Lancet Infectious Diseases in a report released on August 11th.