New STDs emerging

From the New York Daily News

The first worrisome pathogen is Neisseria meningitides, a bacteria that “can cause invasive meningitis, a potentially deadly infection of the brain and spinal cord’s protective membranes,” the health website Mosaic informs us. “More commonly, it’s gaining a reputation as a cause of urogenital infections.”

N meningitides resides in the back of the nose and throat of between 5% and 10% of adults, the site said. There’s a chance people can transmit the bacteria via oral sex or deep kissing.

In 2015, Mosaic said, the bacterial strain mixed with the closely related N gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea — a mutation that allowed the disease to spread more readily.

On the upside, vaccines are available that can protect against all five strains of the gonorrhea bacterium.

Second on the list is Mycoplasma genitalium, one of the world’s smallest bacteria. Between 1% and 2% of people are infected, most of them teens and young adults. Many times it doesn’t cause symptoms, but it can irritate the urethra and cervix, just as gonorrhea and chlamydia do. In women this can lead, like chlamydia, to pelvic inflammatory disease and its associated potential for infertility, miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.

While antibiotics exist that will eradicate it, resistant strains are developing, which means it could morph into a superbug.

Third on the list is Shigella flexneri, which one contracts from feces. Shigellosis is one of the bacteria causing dysentery, so is not exclusively contracted via sexual contact. But it might have found a new avenue in anal-oral sex, reported Medscape and the CDC. And given that it is becoming resistant to azithromycin, which also treats gonorrhea, the potential for a superbug is there.

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is number four on the emerging-STD list, caused by acute Chlamydia trachomatis strains. Its incidence is increasing in Europe and North America, especially among gay and bisexual men, Mosaic reports. A 2016 CDC report documented a cluster of cases among men having sex with men in Michigan. Its symptoms can be subtle, with a fast-disappearing lesion in the genital area, but they can also be even less noticeable, according to the CDC.

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