Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

'Stealth' STI Mycoplasma genitalium risks becoming a superbug

'Stealth' STI Mycoplasma genitalium risks becoming a superbug

A rare sexually-transmitted infection (STI) could spark a "public health emergency" within 15 years if not taken seriously, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has warned.

But specialists warn this is set to double within 10 years as the infection rapidly becomes untreatable.

An estimated 2 percent of people are infected in the United Kingdom, so The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has released new guidelines about how to treat and diagnose MG.

It often has no symptoms at all, but if left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, and ultimately infertility in women.

Paddy Horner, of BASHH, said last night: "MG has the potential to become a superbug within a decade, resistant to standard antibiotics". The infection was only discovered in the 1980s, yet scientists didn't know until years later that it was actually transmitted via sex.

That is because it is commonly misdiagnosed as Chlamydia, another STI.

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Experts say a lack of test kits means it is regularly confused with chlamydia and treated with incorrect doses of antibiotics - building up unsafe antibiotic resistance which could see it soon become untreatable.

Because antibiotic-resistance is higher in many other countries, doctors say holiday romances could drive the spread. Symptoms also include pain during sex and post-coital bleeding.

Per the BBC, health officials in the United Kingdom have set new guidelines regarding the bacterial infection Mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, out of fear improper treatment could lead to antibiotic resistance.

"The new BASHH guideline on MG is a positive step forward to improving testing and diagnosis", said Helen Fifer, a consultant microbiologist at Public Health England.

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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