According to a recent study, the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, which is thought to be sexually transmitted, infects more than 1 percent of people ages 16 to 44 in the United Kingdom. This means about 250.000 people. Studies in the US have found that a similar percentage of people are infected with MG.
Although the MG seems a new STD, the existence of the bacterium was first reported in the early 1980s.But at that time researchers didn't have the right types of test to study M.genitalium. The connection for transmitting it via sexual activity just came around the mid-1990s, according to an interview in Livescience with Lisa Manhart, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Mycoplasma genitalium, known as MG, has very few symptoms but is now known to be passed on through sex. It is estimated to affect 1% of 16- to 44-year-olds who report having had at least one sexual partner, and used no condoms. It is even more common with people who had at least four new sexual partners with whom they had unprotected sex.
Almost no symptoms
The symptoms are vage: men can have a burning pain while urinating or discharge from the penis.
For women it can lead to pain in the lower abdomen and pain or bleeding during or after sex. Although according to the new study in the International Journal of Epidemiology, about 94 percent of men and 56 percent of women infected with M.genitalium had no symptoms at all.
Further research into the clinical implication of infection and the long term complications of of MG infection are needed before work could begin on possible screening or steps to prevent it. In the US the Food and Drug Administration has no approved a test for M.genitalium, and doctors do not routinely test for the bacteria.
Treatment for M.genitalium is often a five-day course of antibiotics.