Variations of two deadly superbugs that had previously only been discovered in the United States have surfaced in South America.
Variations of two U.S. strains of killer bacteria have cropped up in South America, researchers say.
The drug-resistant microorganisms are sweeping across communities in Colombia and have the potential to unleash devastating results, according to researchers at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
"The people of Colombia are not aware this is coming. It is killing people here and it is going to kill a lot of people there if we don't act quickly," Dr. Cesar Arias, one of the lead researchers of the study, told CNN.
The study, which was carried out with the Universidad El Bosque in Bogota, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday.
The bugs that have emerged in Colombia are genetically related to two strains of bacteria -- MRSA and VREF -- that have spread across the United States.
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was once spread mainly in hospitals. In recent years, a number of people not in contact with hospitals have presented with the disease, which is a leading cause of severe skin infections in the United States.
VREF, which stands for vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, mainly arises in hospitals and infects people in critical care units.
Both so-called superbugs can cause lethal infections and are resistant to antibiotics.
There were no known cases of this type of MRSA in Colombia before 2005, and no cases of VREF before 2001, the study said.