Belgian man first to die from new "super-bug"

A Belgian man has become the first known to die from an infection caused by bacteria containing an enzyme gene called New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1, or NDM-1.

The so-called “super-bug,” thought to have originated in South Asia, is impervious to treatment by most known antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are often thought of as the last resort for doctors, according to AFP.

The unnamed Belgian was involved in car crash during a trip to Pakistan. It is believed that he contracted the infection in the hospital where he was staying. Despite being given colistin, a powerful antibiotic, the man died in June after being transferred to a Brussels hospital.

According to the Belgian media, a second man recovered from the infection in a Belgian hospital in July after contracting it in Montenegro.

"The epicenter of the presence of this bacteria seems to be India and Pakistan, but it appears through contact and travel, its spread is becoming wider," Youri Glupczynski, a bacteriologist from the University of Leuven, told AFP.

Three cases have also surfaced in Australia among medical tourists to India.

"We found this multi-resistant, untreatable bug in their urine, luckily not causing too many problems to that person. But it's a real problem if it spreads to others," Peter Collignon, the head of Canberra Hospital’s infectious diseases department, said.

Collignon called these cases the tip of the iceberg. Experts believe the number of the infected is probably much higher and that infections are aided in spreading by the ease of global travel.