A rare sexually transmitted infection that causes a sufferer’s genitals to erupt and rot has been diagnosed in a woman from Southport, Merseyside.
Usually found in tropical locations, such as Guyana, donovanosis causes ulcers to grow and spread on a person’s intimate region, before the flesh of the genitals starts to eat itself.
According to a freedom of information (FOI) request, the STI was diagnosed within the past year in an unnamed woman aged between 15 and 25 years old.
Skin-on-skin contact between a person and a bleeding ulcer is all it takes to pass on donovanosis. Untreated, the ulcers destroy genital tissue, which can cause permanent damage, scarring and discolouration.
According to the Institute for Sexual Health, just a few dozen cases of donovanosis occur each year in the UK.
It is unclear how the woman contracted the STI or if she suffered any lasting complications. Most UK and US cases occur after patients have unprotected sex in endemic countries.
A sexually transmitted infection, known as donovanosis, which causes a sufferer’s genitals to erupt and rot has been diagnosed in a woman from Southport, Merseyside (stock)
WHAT IS DONOVANOSIS?
Donovanosis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is rarely seen in the UK or US.
It more commonly occurs in tropical and subtropical regions such as southeast India, Guyana and New Guinea.
Cases that occur in the UK or US are usually due to people having sex in places where the STI is common.
Donovanosis can be spread via vaginal, anal or oral sex.
It affects more than twice as many men as women, with those aged 20-to-40 being the most likely to suffer.
Symptoms generally occur between one and 12 weeks of exposure to the bacteria Granuloma inguinale.
- Red bumps on the genitals or around the anus
- Worn away skin due to bumps ulcerating
- Genital and groin tissue damage
- Discolouration around the intimate area
Treatment requires antibiotics, which are usually taken for three weeks or until the sores have healed.
Untreated, patients can suffer permanent genital damage, scarring and discolouration.
Source: Medline Plus
STI causes genitals to ‘literally rot away’
Pharmacist Shamir Patel, from Chemist 4 U, which submitted the FOI request, told the Liverpool Echo: ‘Bacteria that cause the disease, known as klebsiella granulomatis, infect the skin around the genitals, groin or anal area and causes lesions and skin disintegration as the flesh effectively consumes itself.’
Although donovanosis is treatable via antibiotics, Mr Patel adds ‘time is of the essence’.
‘Any delay could cause the flesh around the genitals to literally rot away.
‘This bacteria is also a risk factor in the transmission of HIV,’ he said.
Previous reports show donovanosis ulcers, which give off a foul odour, have been reported in Australia and South Africa.
A spokesperson for Public Health England (PHE) added: ‘Donovanosis primarily occurs in tropical countries or regions of the Americas, Southern Africa and Oceania.
‘It is very rarely diagnosed and reported in the UK.’
Victorian STIs such as syphilis have increased by more than 20%
This comes after figures released last June suggested cases of syphilis and gonorrhea increased by more than 20 per cent in the past year in the UK.
Syphilis, which can be life-threatening if it severely damages the brain, heart or nervous system, incidences rose by 20 per cent from 5,955 in 2016 to 7,137 in 2017, according to a report by Public Health England.
Gonorrhoea, which can cause pregnancy complications and infertility, increased by 22 per cent from 36,577 cases in 2016 to 44,676 in 2017, the data adds.
As well as increased testing, PHE have said in the past ‘high levels of condomless sex probably account for most of this rise’.
This comes after experts previously warned diseases linked to the Victorian era, such as syphilis, rickets, gout and scarlet fever, are on the rise in the UK.
A fall in living standards and growing financial inequality are thought to be behind the surge in old-fashioned illnesses.