New Delhi, Dec 5: Newborn deaths are on a rise in India and here is the reason - A bacteria, known as CRE, which has become resistant to nearly all antibiotics in the market.
According to a NYT report, more than 58,000 died last year in India due to the bug. In a country like India, where infant mortality rate is very high, the resistant infections could raise the number of deaths further. Nearly a third of the world's infant deaths occur in India.
The bacteria, which is killing thousands of infants in India, poses a threat to other countries as well. In visits to neonatal intensive care wards in five Indian states, doctors reported being overwhelmed by such cases.
According to doctors, five years ago, there were zero occurrance of these kinds of infections. The NYT report says that close to 100 percent of the babies referred to the doctors in New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital have multidrug resistant infections.
The bacteria, which spreads through water, sewage, animals, soil and even the babies' mothers, are immune to nearly all antibiotics, say doctors.
It affects newborns easily as their immune systems are fragile. It spreads quickly and leaves no time for doctors to find a medicine that works.
According to the report, mandolin musician Uppalapu Shrinivas, who died on September 19 at a young age of 45, was suffering from an infection that doctors could not cure. This shows that not just infants are vulnerable to these bacteria.
According to professors in Cardiff University, the bacteria spreads in India due to the country's dismal state of sanitation, uncontrolled use of antibiotics and overcrowding. In many parts of the country, people defecate outdoors, and much of the sewage generated by by those using toilet goes untreated. This accelerates the spread of these bacteria.
Now, with migration of Indians to other countries and similar reasons, the superbug, identified as NDM1 (or New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase 1) - has been traced in countries like France, Japan, Oman and the United States.