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Will drug-resistant germs in India spread to West?

MUMBAI, India - People who travel to India and Pakistan for cheaper health care may be at risk from a new type of drug-resistant bacteria, an international team of scientists has reported.

The researchers found a gene that enables the bacteria to resist treatment with a class of antibiotics called carbapenems in 1.9 percent of samples from patients in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Har-yana, according to the study in the journal Lancet. Reports from 37 patients in Britain who had the resistant strains were also analyzed, and the researchers found that most had received treatment at hospitals in India and Pakistan.

When carbapenems are ineffective, doctors are limited to two drugs: Colistin, a 50-year-old medicine known to cause kidney damage, and Pfizer's Tygacil. If millions of people in the Indian subcontinent must rely on these last-resort medications, it's only a matter of time before resistance develops for these drugs, Timothy Walsh, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

"The possibility of this becoming a global problem very quickly is immense," said Walsh, a professor at Cardiff University in Wales. - Bloomberg News

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