Thursday, August 12, 2010

Medical Tourism and The Unstoppable NDM-1 Bacteria

In case you haven't heard, NDM-1 or more formally, New Dehli-Metallo-1,is the new superbug in town. Well, it is not exactly a super bug itself. It is a gene that can turn any bug into a superbug impervious to antibiotics and that makes it pretty scary stuff.  There is very little data on it, but potentially, it can turn any bacterium into a  killer-- or not.  We don't know yet.

It comes from India but it's turning up now in the UK  and experts expect it to spread around the world rather quickly. Why?  Well, that is interesting too.  It seems the affluent from America, Austrailia, and Western Europe go to India for affordable surgical procedures-- particularly cosmetic surgery, and these medical tourists are taking more than a pretty face back home with them.

Here we go again with this year's H1N1. It's as if those of us of European extraction have some kind of deeply embedded genetic memory of the Black Death which killed half the population of Europe in the Middle Ages and we are just waiting for it to happen again. 

Well, here's what folks.  It probably will happen again  sooner or later because there are just too many of us on the planet.You can't fight mother nature.  But will NDM-1 be the killer that does the trick?  My crystal ball is a little cloudy on that one but here is what's for sure.

The media, online, broadcast and print, all over the world are going to be all over this one, so get ready for lots of scary, end of the world headlines. Also (and this is a good thing) the drug companies just might decide to invest bigtime in  new antibiotics in an attempt to find something that works against NDM-1. We'll hear a lot about that too.  If this really is the big one, we'll all know soon enough and if it is just another H1N1, we'll know that too.

In the meantime, if you are thinking about going to India for a face lift or a tummy tuck, think again or at least consider Canada instead for your medical tourism expedition. 

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