Experts are warning the public that a little known sexually transmitted disease may become the next superbug as it’s increasing its resistance to antibiotics.
Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) can be prevented by condom use but if contracted can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and painful penal discharge and inflammation of the urethra in men.
In response to this, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) have released new guidance with Public Health England (PHE).
‘These new guidelines have been developed, because we can't afford to continue with the approach we have followed for the past 15 years as this will undoubtedly lead to a public health emergency with the emergence of MG as a superbug,’ said Paddy Horner, co-author of the guidelines.
‘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.’
‘Resources are urgently needed to ensure that diagnostic and antimicrobial resistance testing is available for women with the condition who are at high risk of infertility.’
First identified in the 1980s MG is thought to affect 1-2% of the population, yet tests for MG are not available in all clinics but instead samples can be sent to PHE.
The success of one family of antibiotics, macrolides, against MG has decreased globally – with only an estimated 40% success rate in the UK. This follows recent news of a man in the UK having contracted 'super-gonorrhoea' which is immune to antibiotic treatment.
However, one antibiotic, azithromycin, is successful in most cases but experts still advocate for condom use to prevent the disease from spreading - despite the news last year that nearly half of young people aren't using protection.
‘It's about time the public learned about Mycoplasma genitalium,’ said Peter Greenhouse, sexual consultant in Bristol and a BASHH member.
‘It's yet another good reason to pack the condoms for the summer holidays - and actually use them.’