By Melissa Matthews / Newsweek
You’ve likely never heard of, or been tested for it, but a sexually transmitted infection that’s fairly common could now be resistant to antibiotic medications. Mycoplasma genitalium, or MG, is not a new bacteria and was first identified in the 1980s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is more common than gonorrhea and chlamydia, though it's not as easily recognized as the other two.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the country's healthcare professionals are concerned the bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics.
"It's essentially acting like a superbug, with research showing at least 50 percent of [infected] people have a drug-resistant MG, limiting their treatment options," Dr. Suzanne Garland, of The Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, told the outlet.
A new test will be given in hospitals and clinics across the country to screen patients, which will help medical professionals better identify how big a problem MG could be. Currently, there is not enough data to determine how many people are infected.
"In sexual health clinics, 10-35 percent of the people being tested have it," Garland told ABC.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve a test, according to the CDC, though a test is available that can detect the bacteria’s presence. The CDC does not recommend testing those who do not show any signs of being infected. Little is known about MG but symptoms are subtle and include an infection in the urethra for men, typically exhibited by burning while peeing. In women, MG is linked to abnormal discharge and bleeding after sex due to pelvic inflammatory disease, reported Live Science.
"Most of the research that’s going on now is trying to better understand the implications of [M. genitalium] infection in women," says Lisa Manhart, Epidemiologist and Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.