Seventh superbug case found in baby boy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 12:00am


An 11-month-old boy from the mainland has been diagnosed with a deadly and drug-resistant superbug, the seventh such case in the city's hospitals.

Although none of the patients have been infected in the city, medical experts warn that the highly contagious NDM-1 could spread rapidly as more victims come to Hong Kong. None of the patients locally has died.

The Centre for Health Protection said the boy, who lives in Dongguan, had been suffering from fever, coughing and diarrhoea since mid-April and had been admitted to a hospital on the mainland with suspected pneumonia.

When his symptoms persisted despite treatment, he was taken to Tuen Mun Hospital on May 2. A stool sample tested positive for NDM-1 on Saturday. He was said to be in a stable condition yesterday.

The bacteria is common in Asian countries such as Pakistan and India.

'All cases found in Hong Kong have been associated with a history of travelling aboard,' University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said. 'No local outbreak has been seen so far. But the latest cases showed the superbug may be circulating in the community on the mainland, particularly in health institutions with poor [hygiene] standards.'

Leung warned that the superbug could incubate in the intestines for as long as 10 years before a patient falls ill, and in that period, the patient could spread the highly-communicable bacteria without knowing.

As the bacteria is resistant to most antibiotics, treatment options are limited, and the fatally rate could reach up to 50 per cent once that patient has been ill, Leung said.

A 21-month-old girl from Pok Fu Lam was among the victims of the bacteria in August last year. The first fatal case of the superbug was in Belgium two years ago.