'Stealth' STI Mycoplasma genitalium risks becoming a superbug

Maricruz Casares
Julio 11, 2018

A little known sexually transmitted infection could become the next superbug unless people become more vigilant, experts are warning.

The Mycoplasma Genitalium (MG) bacterium now only affects 1-2 percent of the public, but BASHH warned in a new set of guidelines it could become a superbug in 15 years' time if proper testing and treatment fails to be provided by local health services.

One in 100 British adults aged 16 to 44 are thought to be infected with Mycoplasma genitalium - or MG.

Only recently has it been recognised that MG is passed on by sexual activity and can cause problems such as genital pain and bleeding.

Paddy Horner, of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, said: 'MG has potential to become a superbug.

It can also be treated by an antibiotic called macrolides, but the guidelines warned that MG is becoming increasingly resistant to it.

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Its draft guidelines detail how best to spot and treat MG.

"Resources are urgently needed to ensure that diagnostic and antimicrobial resistance testing is available for women with the condition who are at high risk of infertility". Macrolide resistance in the United Kingdom is estimated at about 40%, say the guidelines.

Bad cases can cause painful inflammation for men, but can be more serious for women - potentially causing womb scarring that leave them infertile. "So people need to take precautions".

It's not a great time to be having unprotected sex.

Dr Helen Fifer, consultant microbiologist at Public Health England, welcomed the guidelines, adding: "If you have symptoms of an STI, we recommend you get tested at your local sexual health clinic".

Almost half of 16 to 24-year-olds admit they have had sex with a new partner without using a condom, a Public Health England report said in December.

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