Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Doctors have warned an emerging STI could become an antibiotic-resistant superbug

Patrick Sheandell O'Carroll via Getty Images Patrick Sheandell O'Carroll via Getty Images
Samantha Long | 12 July, 2018, 01:57

Women have been warned about the spread of an increasingly unsafe "stealth" sexually transmitted infection that makes women infertile.

"MG is rapidly becoming the new superbug: it's 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, sexual health consultant from the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

The bacteria is called Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), and it causes similar symptoms to chlamydia, such as painful urination.

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

The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV on Wednesday issued new NICE-approved guidelines to prevent an explosion of infection rates within 5 to 10 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".

Its draft guidelines detail how best to spot and treat MG. For men it causes inflammation of the urethra and could lead to watery discharges from the penis.

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This common mistake has meant the bug has been quietly getting stronger and more prevalent - and because it has been treated with the wrong drugs is now very resistant to any antibiotic.

You can get it by having unprotected sex with someone who has it. Condoms can prevent this spread. In Europe, that number dips slightly to 1% to 2% of the population, the guidelines state.

Dr Peter Greenhouse, a sexual consultant in Bristol and BASHH member, urged people to take precautions.

"It's yet another good reason to pack the condoms for the summer holidays - and actually use them".

"Our guidelines recommend that patients with symptoms are correctly diagnosed using an accurate MG test, treated correctly then followed up to make sure they are cured".

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