"We are not able to treat it": Antibiotics' STI superbug

THE overuse of an antibiotic that treats common conditions such as strep throat and pneumonia is fuelling increased cases of a treatment-resistant sexually transmitted superbug in Queensland, research has found.

New research by the University of Queensland has revealed a rapid increase in cases of the bacteria which are resistant to "essentially all antimicrobials available for treatment".

Lead researcher Associate Professor David Wylie said for the first time in the Sunshine State as many as 70 per cent of diagnosed cases of Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) were found to be resistant to antibiotics.

"There (has been) lots of media attention recently about resistant Gonorrhoea; with that, (for) any patient in Australia there is no drama about treating them," he said.

"If they go in (to a clinic) and we diagnose the infection as Gonorrhoea we will treat them.

"With Mycoplasma genitalium it is a completely different story.

"There (are) patients presenting, we know it is Mycoplasma genitalium, but we are not able to treat it."

The researchers have blamed a lack of awareness for the spread of the superbug, which has symptoms vaguely similar to those of Chlamydia, and the overuse of some antibiotics.

Associate Professor Wylie said the emerging STI had only been discovered about a decade ago and development of new antibiotics was desperately needed to combat the rising number of antibiotic-resistant cases.

He said recent developments in testing had made it easier for clinics to test for MG.

"Labs are starting to introduce tests to actually test specifically for this organism," he said

"It is sort of like a secondary test they will do (after testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea)."

Topics:  disease editors picks sti

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