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Media speculated on superbug findings: Author

Source: PTI
August 13, 2010 12:27 IST

With a report of an antibiotic resistant superbug originating from India creating an uproar, its lead author has dismissed as hypothetical the conclusion that the bacteria was transmitted from the country and said some interpretations were made without his knowledge.

Karthikeyan Kumarasawamy said there was nothing to worry or fear about the superbug, termed New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamese.

He also said some interpretations in the report were written without his knowledge. "Without my knowledge some of the interpretations were written in the report", he said.

The department of health in United Kigdom has already put out an alert on the issue, raising the hackles of the Indian medical fraternity.

The Union health ministry also came out with a hard-hitting statement against the report, saying the contents of the article present a 'frightening picture' that is not supported by any scientific data.

"The media has speculated the whole matter. That the bacteria was transmitted from our country is just hypothetical. Unless we analyse samples from across the globe to confirm its presence, we can only speculate," Erode-based Karthikeyan told PTI.

Karthikeyan, research student at A L Mudaliar postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, co-authored the research article with Timothy Walsh, published in 'Lancet'.

He said the NDM-1 bacteria was not a big issue and that the 'bacteria was not that big and vulnerable as H1NI, which currently exists.'

Karthikeyan said details about NDM-1 bacteria have already been published in an Indian journal by a hospital in Mumbai six months ago. "Our intention in publishing the research study is just to show its prevalence in India," he said.

Karthikeyan said many countries have been doing research on this bacteria, which has a different name in each country. "Recently in Seoul and in Germany scientists found similar kinds of virus. But no one created this much hype," he noted.

"I am a little bit worried that the whole issue has been taken up at Parliament level," he said, adding some sections of the media had repeatedly 'misinterpreted' the issue.

After the study's findings, the medical fraternity across India slammed the report, saying it was apparently aimed at hitting India's booming medical tourism market that was taking away business from the West.

"Medical tourism will not be affected in our country. The study only tells about the bacteria and not about its spreading activities," he said.

Karthikeyan termed as 'untrue' that NDM-1 bacteria can resist all medicines. "Of course it (NDM-1) bacteria can resist some medicines. There will be medicines that will resist this bacteria. Scientists will soon find that," he said.

The study, based on a survey of patients in Indian cities, said a multi-drug resistant strain of bacteria was spreading from Indian hospitals. The bug that enters the bloodstream through infected hospital equipment could lead to multiple organ failure, it said.

Madras University on Thursday honoured Karthikeyan for his research.

Asked if he would continue research on NDM-1, he said he would do so. "I will continue work in this area and also to eradicate this gene and develop strong drugs."

"I will stay in India and continue to do research activities for the benefit of my people," he said.

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