Indian Superbug Underscores Risks of Medical Tourism
Last week’s report of a beta-lactam-resistant superbug in the United Kingdom,* which was likely imported from India, highlights the infectious risks associated with medical tourism, according to an accompanying editorial. The growing trend of traveling to get medical care in non-Western countries—particularly for procedures not covered by insurance (eg, gastric bypass)—is expected to grow in India at an annual rate of 30%, says a 2009 news report. By 2015, medical tourism in India will be a 95-billion-rupee or $2-billion industry (if I’m calculating correctly).
At least one Indian doctor is accusing the report’s corresponding author, who happens to be from the UK, of fear mongering and racism (despite the fact that multiple nationalities are represented by the listed investigators).
* Specifically Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli containing New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1.
Scanning electron micrograph of E. coli bacterium from CDC/Janice Haney Carr.