Rare sex disease could become next superbug, doctors warn

Desiree Burns
July 11, 2018

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. The greatest outcome is for women with pelvic inflammatory disease caused by MG, which would be very hard to treat, putting them at increased risk of infertility'.

Mycoplasma genitalium is a bacterium that can cause inflammation of the urethra in men, causing discharge from the penis and making it painful to urinate.

The news comes after health officials a year ago warned that millions of young people are shunning protection because risky sex has become acceptable once again, three decades after the Aids epidemic made condom use essential. "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 BASHH says this is concerning.

Although tests for MG have been developed they are not now available at all clinics.

MG can be treated with a five-day course of antibiotics, but it is increasingly becoming more resistant to different antibiotic drugs. Macrolide resistance in United Kingdom is estimated at about 40%, say the guidelines.

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Another antibiotic, azithromycin, still works in most cases.

"It's about time the public learned about Mycoplasma genitalium", he said.

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.

"This is not curing the infection and is causing antimicrobial resistance in MG patients", Paddy Horner, a consultant senior lecturer in sexual health at Bristol University and one of the authors of the new guidelines, told the BBC.

Gynaecologist Peter Greenhouse said: 'It's yet another good reason to pack condoms for the summer holidays.

"Everyone can protect themselves from STIs by consistently and correctly using condoms with new and casual partners".

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