Three reported cases of drug resistant bacteria in U.S.

In the United States, people in three states have fallen ill from bacteria that contain a drug resistant gene originating in India that confers protection from nearly all known forms of antibiotics.

The three U.S. cases and two others in Canada are part of an emerging global health crisis that has seen cases all over the world. British medical journal The Lancet detailed dozens of similar cases in August, where British citizens became infected after seeking medical care in India, according to the Associated Press.

The gene, known as New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1, or NDM-1, has now been found in large numbers of bacteria that live in the intestines and is capable of causing gut and urinary tract infections, according to The Guardian.

Since there is no means of tracking such cases, the number of deaths directly caused by the gene remains unknown, but it appears that global travel and medical tourism has exacerbated its spread.

The U.S. cases in 2010 occurred in people from California, Massachusetts and Illinois, Brandi Limbago, a lab chief for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press. In all three cases, different kinds of bacteria were to blame and three different mechanisms were used by the bacteria to acquire the gene.

“We want physicians to look for it,” Limbago told the Associated Press, adding that people who have recently travelled to India or Pakistan may be at increased risk.

Dr. Patrice Nordmann, a professor of microbiology at the South-Paris Medical School, said that the ingredients are in the sub-continent for widespread transmission, telling the Associated Press that India is an overpopulated country that overuses antibiotics, has widespread diarrheal disease and poor sanitation.

The three United States patients, all of whom survived, were not related, but all are known to have connections with India.