Breaking News: Rare STD Threatens to Become a “Super Bug”
In recent days, several U.K. news outlets have reported on a new concern around the rising instance of a lesser-known STD called Mycoplasma genitalium (MG or MGen). It is estimated that 2% of the British population is carrying MGen (Newser, 2018) and in the U.S. and an estimated 1 in 100 adults are infected with this bacterium (WebMD, 2018).
The series of reports were released in an effort to ensure that the general medical community is cognizant of the presence and risk of the infection as it is not normally a consideration and is not generally tested for.
The scientific community has been aware of MGen since 1980, but it was not until 2015 that it was recognized to be transmitted through sexual activity (including sexual touching without intercourse)(WebMD, 2018). According to the CDC, MGen is more present in any sexual setting than gonorrhea (the second most reported STD in America after chlamydia)(CDC, 2015).
More alarmingly, MGen is a slow growing bacterial infection and attacks the urethra (urinary tract) in both men and women. According to a report by the Cleveland Clinic, the slow-growing nature of this STD means that the majority of people who are infected do not know it (Infectious Disease Advisor, 2017). This makes testing for MGen difficult at the same as time increases the ability for the ongoing spread from one unknowing sexual partner to the next. When symptoms do present themselves, they are mistaken for other common STDs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Common symptoms of MGen are abnormal discharge, painful urination, pain during sex, abnormal bleeding after sex or in between periods (in women), lower abdominal pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic, individuals who are treated for chlamydia and gonorrhea but continue to experience symptoms should be evaluated for MGen as soon as possible (Infectious Disease Advisor, 2017).
Testing for MGen has been developed but is not available in most labs in the U.S.A. Getting tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea is an essential tool in ruling out infection. If someone tests negative for both chlamydia and gonorrhea but continues to experience symptoms, follow up testing should be considered for MGen.
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If an MGen infection is mistakenly treated as a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection, with the standard antibiotics for those STD conditions, the MGen infection will not be eradicated, thereby resulting in drug resistance to any other antibiotic approach to treatment, e.g., MGen “Super Bug” (Telegraph, 2018). Compounded with how easily MGen is spread and how often it might be misdiagnosed and treated, the threat of a wide-sweeping super strain of MGen could lead to a public health emergency (Newsweek, 2018).
An MGen infection that is not properly identified and treated can cause long-term and serious health risks such as UTI (urinary tract infection), cervicitis, and pelvic inflammation disorder (PID) which can result in damage to the reproductive organs, certain types of cancer, and even death.
While there is currently no FDA approved testing methodology specific to MGen, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) has launched new protocols in the U.K. for the identification and treatment of MGen, which specifies the use of a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). NAAT requires a simple urine sample and treatment of MGen involves seven days of antibiotics with follow up testing and potential additional prescriptive measure (Telegraph, 2018).
Prevention of an MGen infection is no different than the preventative measures for any other STD. Correct and consistent condom use in addition to reducing the number of sexual partners will eliminate the majority of STD risk.
Early identification is vital to the successful treatment or management of any STD condition. STDAware is the only online STD testing provider that includes no-cost medical consultation and prescriptive treatment solutions. To learn more about the services covered with testing for STDAware patients, click here.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE AN STD IS TO GET TESTED.
Overall, medical experts agree that routine STD testing is one of the strongest defenses against any STD infection. STDAware is committed to providing the most convenient, simple, and accessible means of STD testing in the industry. To find out more about STDAware, click here.
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