SANDAKAN - MALAYSIANS need not panic over a report that a superbug, resistant to antibiotics, had been detected in a 24-year-old woman, the first known case in Malaysia, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the patient was the sole carrier of the superbug and that she had recovered after receiving treatment at a hospital.

'We have extracted the bacteria from her body and there was no transmission to either the health workers or other patients,' he told reporters after launching a health carnival at the Karamunting rural clinic here on Saturday.

The superbug, known scientifically as the NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1) is, according to the United States' Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, an enzyme that destroys many commonly used antibiotics, rendering them ineffective.

Following the detection of the case, Mr Liow said all hospitals and clinics had been ordered to strictly follow set guidelines when giving out antibiotics as the bug was immune to the drugs and would mutate.

Identified in India and Pakistan, it had reportedly caused the death of a Belgian man and infected several people from Britain, Australia and the United States who had travelled to the two countries for surgery. The Belgian was reportedly infected by the bacteria after being hospitalised in Pakistan for a leg injury suffered in a car accident.

'Don't panic over superbug'