The STD known as ‘MG’ is thought to affect 400,000 Australians. Picture: istock
The STD known as ‘MG’ is thought to affect 400,000 Australians. Picture: istock

The insidious, unknown STD on the rise

A LITTLE-known, sometimes symptomless sexually transmitted disease is set to be the next superbug within a decade, if people don't wise up about their sex lives, experts are warning.

According to the New York Post, mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, is a sexually transmitted bacteria that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and, ultimately, infertility in women if not treated properly.

Symptoms of MG can be similar to gonorrhoea and chlamydia - but often, there are no signs of an infection at all. That means some people may not even be aware they've been infected until bigger problems arise.

If left untreated, MG, which was first discovered in the early 1980s and spreads through unprotected sex, can also develop a resistance to antibiotics.

"This is not curing the infection and is causing antimicrobial resistance in MG patients," Dr Paddy Horner told the Telegraph.

"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."

In women, MG can cause a burning sensation when urinating and pain or bleeding during and after sex. Men might experience watery discharge from their penis.

It is estimated that MG affects about 400,000 Australians, according to a report in The Age.

It's unclear exactly how many in the US have been infected with MG.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed it as an "emerging issue."

 

Health experts estimate that up to 2 per cent of men and women have contracted the STD known as MG. Picture: Supplied
Health experts estimate that up to 2 per cent of men and women have contracted the STD known as MG. Picture: Supplied

 

In the UK, health experts launched new guidelines for the treatment and diagnosis of MG, saying around 1 to 2 per cent of men and women have contracted the STD, according to the Telegraph. Some clinics, however, have put that number as high as 38 per cent.

The new guidelines recommend a specific test for MG and that it be treated with a seven-day dose of antibiotic doxycycline, followed by a course of azithromycin.

"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 Dr Horner, who helped author the new guidelines.

Dr Olwen Williams, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, warned of much greater consequences.

"Potentially up to 3,000 women a year over the next 10 years could become infertile because of MG leading to pelvic inflammatory disease," she said.

This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.