The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that three cases of infection by a new drug-resistant microbe from India have been reported in the United States.

NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1) is the gene (the DNA code) found in some types of bacteria. This gene makes the bacteria produce an enzyme called a carbapenemase, which makes virtually all antibiotics ineffective. To date, there are no current antibiotics or research of new drugs that might combat NDM-1.

According to reports, the first case was identified in December 2009 in a patient hospitalized in New Delhi, and has since been detected in bacteria in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Japan.

A bacterium carrying the NDM-1 gene is reportedly the most powerful superbug to date and it is easily transferred from person-to-person. It is commonly transmitted in hospitals and nursing homes by touching contaminated surfaces and hands.

The only way to currently combat the spread of NDM-1 is through surveillance, prompt identification and isolation of infected patients, disinfecting hospital equipment and thorough hand-hygiene procedures in hospitals.