A little known but becoming increasingly common sexually transmitted disease could become a superbug, doctors have warned. Worse, health clinics may not have the necessary tools needed to diagnose the infection properly.
Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), which was first identified in the 1980s, has symptoms similar to that of chlamydia. It is, however, more resistant to treatment and may cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women that can lead to infertility.
The disease is often asymptomatic, which means that it does not show symptoms of infection. Nonetheless, it can cause infected women to feel a burning sensation when urinating, as well as pain and bleeding during and after sex. Infected men may experience having water discharge from their penis.
In the United Kingdom, about 1 to 2 percent of men and women are believed to be infected with the disease but some STD clinics show prevalence as high as 38 percent.
MG In Danger Of Becoming Resistant To Antibiotics
Treatment for MG involves a five-day course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, it becomes more resistant to different antibiotic drugs. Making matters worse is the fact that the disease often gets misdiagnosed and may go untreated.
"This is not curing the infection and is causing antimicrobial resistance in MG patients," warned Paddy Horner, a sexual health expert from at Bristol University and one of the authors of new guidelines issued by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV or BASHH for the treatment and diagnosis of MG.
Homer warned the potentials of the disease becoming untreatable using standard antibiotics over the next ten years.
"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."
Olwen Williams, BASHH president, also cited the need for the public to be aware of this rare sexually transmitted disease given its impact on fertility. She said that up to 3,000 women per year could become infertile over the next decade s as a result of MG infection.
Antibiotic Resistant STIs
Other sexually transmitted diseases are also at risk of becoming a superbug. The World Health Organization has long warned that the spread of a superbug gonorrhea is imminent.
The United Nations agency blamed the decreasing use of condom and inadequate treatment as among the factors that make the infection harder to treat. WHO also warned that oral sex helps spread antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.