Doctors Warn This Little Known STI Could Be The Next Big Superbug

Scary stuff

There’s a new STI on the block and doctors are concerned with numbers in the UK on the rise.

The STI is called Mycoplasma Genitalium (AKA, MG or MGen) was listed by Public Health England as ‘One to watch’ back in June and last week the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) announced that they’re working on national guidelines for the management of MG.

Experts fear that the STI is becoming treatment resistant (resistant to antibiotics) and without the proper management, it could become a superbug within the next five years, reports CNN

“MG is rapidly becoming the new ‘superbug’: It’s already increasingly resistant to most of the antibiotics we use to treat chlamydia and changes its pattern of resistance during treatment, so it’s like trying to hit a moving target,” Dr. Peter Greenhouse, the lead sexual health clinician at Weston General Hospital’s Weston Integrated Sexual Health Centre tells CNN.

But what exactly is Mycoplasma Genitalium?

While relatively unknown, MG isn’t new, it was first discovered in the early 19080s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is similar to chlamydia and gonorrhea in that it is largely asymptomatic, but when symptoms are present they can include irritation, bleeding after sex and painful urination and watery dscharge from the penis in men, reports CNN.  

However unlike other STIs, MG is concerning because of the other conditions it can cause, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, cervicitis (an infection of the cervix) and pre-term delivery. 

MG is transmitted through unprotected sex, typically through genital-to-genital contact, according to the BASHH; though it can also be passed through anal and oral sex.

MG is treatable with antibiotics, however in some cases, often due to misdiagnosis, it has been resistant to treatment, with doctors often treating it with chlamydia drugs, creating an antibiotic resistance. 

“If practices do not change and the tests are not used, MG has the potential to become a superbug within a decade, resistant to standard antibiotics. The greatest consequence of this is for the women who present with PID caused by MG, which would be very hard to treat, putting them at increased risk of infertility,” Dr. Paddy Horner, a consultant senior lecturer at the University of Bristol told CNN. 

Experts are now calling for more funding for further testing.

In the meantime, as always, it’s important that you practice safe sex, WHO recommends the use of condoms, including for oral sex, and regular STI checks.

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