Bacterial scientists fear a sexually transmitted infection, mycoplasma genitalium, could soon become a "superbug," in terms of causing infertility among women or potentially even leading to death.
The mycoplasma genitalium infection, or Mgen, has reportedly become resistant to every antibiotic used to treat it.
The STI was discovered in London during the 1980s — but a medical test for the Mgen only became available in the United States three years ago.
Right now, studies suggest that merely 1 in 100 American adults have tested positive for Mgen, but experts also say that 1 in 20 adults could contract this silent-spreading infection within their lifetime.
According to reports, the Mgen infection has been linked to infertility, premature births and miscarriages, as well as cervical swelling and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infection diseases at the University of East Anglia in England, told the Daily Mail that Mgen has the "strongest evidence that it causes adverse health outcomes' of any strain of genital mycoplasma."
Hunter also says the infection is "difficult to diagnose" among most women, since most will exhibit no symptoms at all, but still carry it for years.
"Doing something about it is not easy as the infection is pretty common and most infections do not cause adverse health outcomes," says Hunter, while adding Mgen can often result in painful, bleeding and swollen genitals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers two assessments of mycoplasma genitalium — one for men, and one for women:
"M. genitalium causes symptomatic and asymptomatic urethritis among men. ... The consequences of asymptomatic infection with M. genitalium among men are unknown."
"Among women, M. genitalium has been associated with cervicitis, PID, preterm delivery, spontaneous abortion, and infertility, with an approximately twofold increase in the risk for these outcomes among women infected with M. genitalium. M. gen infections among women are also frequently asymptomatic, and the consequences associated with asymptomatic M. genitalium infection are unknown."
The Daily Mail writes there are "increasing concerns Mgen will become untreatable because the STI has developed resistance to antibiotics," such as azithromycin, quinolone, macrolide, or doxycycline.
The publication also wrote of worries that Mgen will become more common, as STIs soar in America.
In 2021, there were 2.5 million infections in the United States, up from 2.4 million in 2020.
According to the BBC, roughly 700,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant diseases each year.
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