Study detects increase of new generation of superbugs in Brazilian hospitals

The CDC-funded project shows detection rate has gone up nearly sixfold in seven years

claudia colucci

A Brazilian study has demonstrated, for the first time, the increase of an enzyme linked to a new generation of multidrug-resistant bacteria in hospitals in the country, raising the alarm of hospital infection control commissions.

Named New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1), the enzyme was first isolated in 2009 in India and has since caused outbreaks in that country, Pakistan, and England. Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States have also recorded an increase in cases.

Objeto amarelo toca placa de petri com material rosa
Genetic profiling analysis of microorganisms isolated from individuals with urinary tract infection in the Ribeirão Preto region revealed a high degree of resistance and virulence - André Pitondo Silva/Folhapress

In Brazil, NDM had already been detected but never quantified. According to the publication, the detection rate of this enzyme in a group of bacteria (enterobacteria) increased almost six-fold in seven years, from 4.2% to 23.8%, between 2015 and 2022, with a peak during the Covid-19 pandemic.

NDM is part of a larger group of enzymes produced by bacteria, the carbapenemases, which today represent a global threat to public health due to the high levels of resistance to current antibiotics.
One hypothesis is that overcrowded hospitals, unprepared professionals, and the indiscriminate use of antibiotics have contributed to the increase.

Translated by Cassy Dias

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