STD You May Not Have Heard of Could Be Next Superbug

Mycoplasma genitalium can develop resistance to antibiotics if not treated properly
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2018 5:30 PM CDT
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A sexual health checklist.   (Getty Images/juststock)

(Newser) – A little-known sexually transmitted disease carries the potential to become the next superbug. Per the BBC, health officials in the UK have set new guidelines regarding the bacterial infection Mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, out of fear improper treatment could lead to antibiotic resistance. Huffington Post UK reports the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) wants the public and healthcare providers to be aware of MG because it's not one of the infections sexual health officials commonly test for and, if untreated, it can lead to serious and lasting problems, especially in women. For them, untreated MG can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can in turn make it difficult to get pregnant. Men can experience discharge and inflammation of the urethra. It is not known whether MG affects a man's fertility.

Scientists have known about MG since the 1980s, however it wasn't until 2015 that the bacteria was shown to be transmitted sexually between partners. While rare (only around 2% of people in Britain are believed to carry it), MG is difficult to treat and often has no symptoms. Britain's new guidelines specify that healthcare providers should use a nucleic acid amplification test to diagnose MG and that, should testing not be possible, a patient should be treated as if they do have the disease. Per the Telegraph, the guidelines stipulate that MG is to be treated with a week-long course of the antibiotic doxycycline followed by a second antibiotic course with azithromycin. (Health officials are afraid MG could join the ranks of what the CDC calls "nightmare" superbugs.)

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