There is concern that a “silently-spreading” STI that can cause infertility could turn into a superbug.
Mycoplasma genitalium, also known as M. genitalium or M. gen, is becoming resistant to all antibiotics used to treat it.
The sexually transmitted infection was first discovered in London in the 1980s – but a test has only been available in the US since 2019.
That means scientists don’t know exactly how widespread it is.
Some studies suggest that only one in 100 adults in the United States tests positive for the virus, but experts estimate that up to a fifth will get it at some point in their lives.
Bacterial infection has been linked to infertility, premature births and miscarriages, as well as cervical swelling and pelvic inflammatory disease.
There are growing fears that it may become incurable because the STI has developed resistance to the most popular antibiotic used to treat STIs, azithromycin, as well as quinolone, macrolide and doxycycline.
Alternatives are available but they cause serious side effects which mean they are not suitable for pregnant women. And there are signs that he is already becoming tolerant of them too.
There are also concerns that M. gen will become more common as STIs skyrocket in the United States.
In 2021, there were a record 2.5 million infections, compared to 2.4 million in 2020, itself an all-time high.
In 2018, the CDC estimated that there were nearly 68 million STIs in the United States every day that year.
Superbugs are estimated to contribute to around 7 million deaths a year, with some experts warning they should be taken as seriously as global warming.
Mycoplasma genitalium, also known as M. genitalium or M. gen, causes severe symptoms, including infertility, but is resistant to four different types of antibiotics. It is estimated that as many as one in five sexually active US citizens may have it
What is Mr. gen. ?
Mycoplasma genitalium, also known as M. genitalium or M. gen., is a sexually transmitted disease.
It is a bacterial infection that infects the urinary and genital tracts of both men and women.
First discovered in London in the 1980s, it is transmitted through sexual contact.
Babies can also acquire the infection from their mothers before they are born through amniotic fluid.
It is more common in young people and also in people who have unprotected sex and have multiple sexual partners (although this is true for all STIs).
The infection is similar to chlamydia, but is caused by a different bacteria.
Past M. gen. the cases may have been mistaken for chlamydia and treated like it, which allowed him to gradually develop resistance to different antibiotics.
However, it is possible to have both infections.
A test for Mr. gen. has only been available in the US since 2019.
Routine screening is not recommended by the CDC.
- Bleeding and swollen genitals
- Urethritis, swelling and irritation of the urethra, making urination painful
- Abnormal flow
- Cervical swelling
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, causing pain in the lower abdomen and bleeding after sex
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia in England, told DailyMail.com: “It is one of the few genital mycoplasmas including M. gen., M. hominis and certain related ureaplasmas, Mr. Gen. has had the strongest evidence that it causes adverse health effects.
The STI is also “difficult to diagnose”, meaning it spreads under the radar, he said.
“Doing something about it is not easy because the infection is quite common and most infections do not cause health problems.”
M. gen can lead to painful, bleeding, and swollen genitalia, and even infertility in women.
But many people have no symptoms and may carry it for years without realizing it.
It can be transmitted through genital-to-genital contact, such as during unprotected vaginal or anal sex, as well as mother-to-child transmission even before birth.
The risk of early childbirth nearly doubled in women with M. gen., an analysis of 10 studies through 2021 published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infection in May found.
In men, M. gen. can cause urethritis, swelling and irritation of the urethra, making urination painful, but more research is needed to establish the long-term effects of M. gen. infection.
It can also cause abnormal discharge for both sexes.
Simon Clarke, associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told DailyMail.com that it is “entirely doable” that Mr gen. becomes completely resistant to antibiotics.
However, he said more drug-resistant strains were likely “still a long way off”.
He said ‘silent spread’ is the problem, as people ‘don’t know how to go get tested and they pass it on to someone else’.
This means it will continue to become more dominant and doctors will continue to prescribe antibiotics to treat it, fueling antibiotic resistance and the potential for M. gen. become a superbug.
This comes amid soaring STI rates across the board. Rates of chlamydia, the most common STI in the United States, have been rising for more than 30 years
M. gen., chlamydia, and gonorrhea can all be asymptomatic, which means the STI spreads silently. Gonorrhea rates peaked in the 1970s, but still remain high
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics have been dispensed unnecessarily by doctors for decades, fueling once harmless bacteria to become superbugs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously warned that if nothing is done, the world is heading towards a “post-antibiotic” era.
He claimed that common infections, such as chlamydia, would become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.
Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take the wrong doses of antibiotics or if they are given unnecessarily.
Former UK Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies claimed in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is as serious as terrorism.
Figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, with patients succumbing to the once harmless insects.
Around 700,000 people already die every year from drug-resistant infections, including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria worldwide.
Concerns have repeatedly been expressed that medicine will be pushed back into the “dark ages” if antibiotics become ineffective in the coming years.
In addition to existing drugs becoming less effective, there have only been one or two new antibiotics developed in the last 30 years.
In September 2017, the WHO warned that antibiotics were “running out” as a report revealed a “serious shortage” of new drugs being developed.
Without antibiotics, C-sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements will become incredibly “risky”, it was said at the time.
Superbugs are estimated to kill 7 million people, either through co-infection or directly, each year.
But a major study last year found they are the main underlying cause of 1.2 million annual deaths worldwide.
That would make superbugs a bigger global killer than AIDS or malaria, which killed 860,000 and 640,000 respectively that year. By comparison, Covid killed around 3.5 million people in 2021.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend routine screening for M. gen., and does not specify why.
Because the test, known as the Aptima Nucleic Acid Amplification Test, was only approved in 2019, it hasn’t been widely deployed and doctors don’t need to report cases. case of infection.
Patients will only be screened for M. gen. after persistent symptoms and negative tests for other STIs.
This means that there is no clear picture of the spread of M. gen. is, or who it affects most.
But Lisa Manhart, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, told NBC News that Mr. gen. may affect up to 20% of sexually active women and 17% of men aged 15-24.
In contrast, the most common STI in the United States is chlamydia, with 5% of sexually active women ages 14-24 infected with the STI.
If common antibiotics don’t work, doctors may use moxifloxacin.
It works but causes significant side effects including nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and vomiting.
This means that it is not a suitable treatment for everyone, especially pregnant women.
And the more moxifloxacin is used to treat M. gen., the more likely it is to become resistant to it as well.
Other than moxifloxacin, treatment options are limited.
The CDC currently recommends testing for antibiotic resistance before deciding which drugs to take, but these tests are not FDA-approved.
Only a handful of specialized research centers can test whether the infection is resistant to an antibiotic.
Widely available versions of the test could take years, as would antibiotics that work.
Meanwhile, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases on Monday, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, David Harvey, said the rise in STIs was “out control”.
Infection rates for STIs, including gonorrhea and syphilis, have been rising for years, but last year syphilis cases hit their highest level since 1948.