The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it was keeping an eye on the spread of superbug NDM-1, an enzyme that causes bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. It has been confirmed in at least 10 countries.
Japan on Monday confirmed that it had found the NDM-1 gene in bacteria affecting a man in his 50s. The patient had received medical care in India and returned to Japan to be hospitalized in April last year.
The superbug is widespread in India, but has also been found in at least 10 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
Taiwanese health authorities are considering heightening the alert level on the superbug to a type-4 infectious disease, which means that hospitals and clinics that find the superbug, especially on a patient that has recently traveled to India or Pakistan, must immediately report the case to the CDC.
In the meantime, although there has not yet been a confirmed case of the superbug in Taiwan, the CDC has issued warnings to medical staff to wash their hands frequently to prevent a possible spread of NDM-1.
In other news, the CDC yesterday reported that last month, as many as 66 newly reported cases of dengue fever were brought into the country, setting the record for the highest number of new cases in a single month since 1998.
The CDC said that 18 new indigenous cases of dengue fever were reported in the country last week. A majority of the cases, 13 in total, were reported from various parts of Kaohsiung City, where the dengue fever outbreak has been the most severe, while the remaining five indigenous cases originated in Tainan County.
CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that local health authorities have stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the disease and made rounds to check for conditions that allow mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus to proliferate, such as ditches, vases and containers that gather water, especially after afternoon showers during the hot, humid months.
Authorities said that in lieu of the heightened risk that the disease would become widespread, officials would step up efforts to warn residents and conduct inspections, as well as issue fines between NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 when they find violators.
Health authorities said that people who come down with fever or experience drowsiness after being bitten by mosquitoes should seek medical treatment immediately because these could be signs of serious illness.
In a related development, the CDC yesterday said influenza had claimed two more lives in Taiwan last week, bringing the total number of flu deaths since July to 13.
“In both cases, the patients died of influenza AH3 virus infections,” Chou said. “Neither of them had been immunized against flu viruses.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA