On the Agenda - Superbug hits UK hospitals

- In a nutshell A new superbug called New Delhi-Metallo-1 (NDM-1) that is resistant to the most powerful antibiotics has been found in UK hospitals. NHS patients who have been abroad to countries such as India and Pakistan for cosmetic surgery, cancer treatment or transplants have brought the bacteria back from their travels.

Hospital bug: threat to UK
Hospital bug: threat to UK

- How big is the problem?

According to the study that appeared in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, only 37 cases have been identified in the UK so far, but scientists fear the enzyme will go global. Professor Timothy Walsh from Cardiff University told The Daily Telegraph: 'The potential for wider international spread is clear and frightening'.

- Why can it not be stopped?

NDM-1 exists inside different bacteria, which makes it resistant to one of the most powerful groups of antibiotics, called carbapenems. These are usually used in emergencies and to combat hard-to-treat infections.

- PR support

The Lancet Infectious Diseases issued a press release last Monday, embargoed until Wednesday. Researchers from Cardiff University and the Health Protection Agency, which co-authored the study, became spokespeople.

- Media coverage

The story was picked up by BBC Breakfast News, the Today programme, ITN and Sky News. Articles also featured on the front page of The Daily Telegraph with the heading: 'Warning over new hospital superbug', and in the Daily Mail with the headline: 'Alert over "unbeatable'" superbug'.

37 cases discovered so far in Britain (The Lancet)

22 cases in Britain last year (The Daily Telegraph)

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