Belgian Man Dies Of South Asian Superbug

A Belgian man died from a drug-resistant “superbug” originating in South Asia, a doctor said Friday, the first reported death from the bacteria.

A second Belgian picked up the bug after being hospitalised after an accident during a trip to his native Montenegro, but recovered following treatment back in Belgium, another expert said.

The first victim was infected by the bacteria while being treated in a hospital in Pakistan and died in June, Denis Pierard, a microbiologist from AZ VUB hospital in Brussels where the man had been treated, told Belgian media.

“He was involved in a car accident during a trip to Pakistan. He was hospitalised with a major leg injury and then repatriated to Belgium, but he was already infected,” the doctor said.

Despite being administered colistin, a powerful antibiotic, the patient died, Pierard said.

The superbug — found in bacteria carrying the New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) gene — was first identified last year in a Swedish patient admitted to hospital in India.

Youri Glupczynski from the University of Leuven told AFP on Friday that the second Belgian patient had been treated in a hospital in the Antwerp region in July following his return from Montenegro and allowed to go home after his condition improved.

“The epicentre of the presence of this bacteria seems to be India and Pakistan, but it appears through contact and travel, its spread is becoming wider,” Glupczynski, a bacteriologist, said.

British medical journal The Lancet reported this week that bacteria containing the NDM-1 gene had been found in 37 Britons who had received medical treatment in South Asia, while three cases have been reported in Australia.

Belgian hospitals have stepped up vigilance against the bug, particularly among patients who have been hospitalised overseas, several hospitals said Friday.

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