A Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bacteria strain is seen in a petri dish at a microbiological laboratory in Berlin, in this March 2008 file photo. Some British patients who underwent plastic surgery in South Asia now carry a new gene that has the potential to turn bacteria into the latest antibiotic resistant superbug, such as MRSA, according to an article published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.     Credit:  (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

FORBES.com, August 30, 2010  —  Austria’s health ministry is reporting two cases of a new gene that allows bacteria to become a superbug.

The ministry says experts at the medical university in the southern city of Graz detected the gene, known as NDM-1, in two people, both of whom are believed to have been infected in hospitals abroad.

A statement Friday said a person from Pakistan was released in good health from Graz’s university clinic last year after successful treatment. It said another person from Kosovo is still under medical supervision there.

Researchers say the gene – which appears to be circulating widely in India – alters bacteria, making them resistant to nearly all known antibiotics.

Superbugs: ‘Slow Motion Doom and Gloom,’ Experts Says

The overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the increase in antibiotic resistant bugs. Over time, bacteria grow stronger than the treatments they may be regularly exposed to. And, according to many experts, there’s no end in sight.

“It’s slow motion doom and gloom,” say the experts. “We are feeling the limited availability of active antibiotics, and we’re put in situations where we don’t have active therapies to treat cases.”

Although researchers are not able to reverse the superbug genes, it is possible to slow the spread of superbugs, according to Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“Antibiotics are used when they don’t have to be used, and are continued for too long,” said Schaffner.

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