“‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose Overseas Threat”
The New York Times, December 4, 2014, p.A1
“A deadly epidemic that could have global implications is quietly sweeping India, and among its many victims are tens of thousands of newborns dying because once-miraculous cures no longer work. These infants are born with bacterial infections that are resistant to most known antibiotics, and more than 58,000 died last year as a result, a recent study found. While that is still a fraction of the nearly 800,000 newborns who die annually in India, Indian pediatricians say that the rising toll of resistant infections could soon swamp efforts to improve India’s abysmal infant death rate. Nearly a third of the world’s newborn deaths occur in India. … These babies are part of a disquieting outbreak. A growing chorus of researchers say the evidence is now overwhelming that a significant share of the bacteria present in India — in its water, sewage, animals, soil and even its mothers — are immune to nearly all antibiotics. … Some studies have found that developing countries have bacterial rates of resistance to antibiotics that are far higher than those in developed nations, with India the global focal point. Bacteria spread easily in India, experts say, because half of Indians defecate outdoors, and much of the sewage generated by those who do use toilets is untreated. As a result, Indians have among the highest rates of bacterial infections in the world and collectively take more antibiotics, which are sold over the counter here, than any other nationality. … In a continuing study in Delhi at several government-run hospitals that has so far included more than 12,000 high-risk newborns, and was made available to The New York Times, about 70 percent of the babies’ infections were found to be immune to multiple powerful antibiotics, confirming the results of earlier and smaller studies.”
Quickie Analysis: Unfortunately, this seems to be a largely self-inflicted wound.