Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) researchers have discovered two new strains of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among women in Busia County, Kenya’s border county.
The researchers were looking into the cause of an increase in STI cases at two hospitals in the area when they discovered new mutations in genes associated with chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
The researchers used sequential sampling to collect endocervical swabs from 424 Kenyan women aged 15 and up who had STI symptoms.
They discovered the entire group of women had gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
Prof Samson Muuo, assistant principal research scientist at Kemri’s Center for Microbiology Research, revealed that the two new mutations discovered in the MtrR and 23S rRNA genes were linked to macrolide resistance and did not share a common ancestor with the previously reported ones.
Macrolides are antibiotics that are used to manage and treat bacterial infections.
The researchers will examine the sociodemographic characteristics of the sampled women, such as sex protection, antibiotic use history, comorbidities, and previous similar infections.
Prof Muuo stated that co-infection is not a new phenomenon in diseases and that the phenomenon observed in the study is expected when one is exposed to different pathogens.
He as well revealed that the gonorrhoea and chlamydia mutations they discovered were attacking as a pair, indicating that the STIs are common in the area.
Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Mycoplasma genitalium are among the most commonly reported causes of urogenital tract infections in women, according to the researchers.
Mutations in the drug-binding site gene, 23S rRNA, cause significant resistance in C. trachomatis and M. genitalium. Mutations in the mtrR gene in N. gonorrhoeae can result in macrolide resistance.
Ms Shillah Simiyu, a Kenyan epidemiologist who works at the World Health Organization’s African Region Office, explained that Busia has a high number of sexually transmitted diseases because it is a border town where truck drivers stop.
Experts advise the general public to engage in safe sex and seek medical attention if they develop STI symptoms.
The discovery of new mutations and the prevalence of STIs in Busia County serves as a wake-up call for the entire country and the East African region, where STIs are common.