Residents in Doncaster are being warned about a new sexually transmitted ‘superbug’ which could women infertile and cause a 'public health emergency'.
Mycoplasma genitalium, known as MG, affects between one per cent and two per cent of the population, according to the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), however it does not cause symptoms and is often misdiagnosed as a different disease such as chlamydia.
Data from Public Health England shows that 1,196 people in Doncaster were diagnosed with chlamydia last year alone. This figure, however, accounts for just 0.4 per cent of the adults in the area, meaning many cases of MG or chlamydia are likely to be undiagnosed.
Medicines which are used to treat chlamydia are ineffective for MG, leading medical professionals to warn that the infection could become resistant to antibiotics and untreatable within a decade if steps are not taken to tackle it.
If the disease does become resistant to antibiotics, BASHH believes that up to 3,000 women a year nationally who have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) caused by MG could be at risk of infertility.
Paddy Horner, of BASHH, said: “MG is treated with antibiotics, but as until recently there has been no commercially available test, it has often been misdiagnosed as chlamydia and treated as such.
"This is not curing the infection and is causing antimicrobial resistance in MG patients. 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.
"The greatest consequence of this is for the women who present with PID caused by MG, which would be very hard to treat, putting them at increased risk of infertility."
New guidelines on how to tackle MG have been accredited this month by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, however, seven in every 10 sexual health experts across the country said they were not able to afford the diagnostic tests recommended by the guidelines, according to BASHH.
The new recommended guidelines propose the introduction of an accurate MG test and effective treatment for the infection. BASHH have also called on the government to make more funding available to sexual health clinics to tackle the disease.
Mr Horner added: ""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."
MG also has a lower profile then gonorrhoea, but is more widespread. Last year, in Doncaster, 175 people were diagnosed with gonorrhoea.