A doctor has warned that the sexually transmitted infection, which causes angry red ‘flesh-eating’ genital ulcers, is becoming more common in the UK.
Donovanosis is still extremely rare, with only 20 or 30 cases each year, and is more common in India, South America and Southeast Asia.
However, Dr. Mr. Dutta of the MyHealthCare Clinic said that “the data suggest that donovanosis … is becoming more common on these shores.”
It has been dubbed a “flesh eater” because blood-filled wounds destroy the skin.
“Along with the terrifying symptoms, it is important that people be aware that this is a known risk factor for the transmission of HIV,” Dutta said.
According to data from Public Health England, only 30 cases of donovanosis were reported in the UK in 2019.
This was up from 19 in 2016, 26 in 2017 and 21 in 2018. However, in 2020 the number of donovanosis cases dropped to 18 as people spent time in the coronavirus lockdown.
After a person is infected, symptoms begin to appear one to 12 weeks later.
Symptoms include painful genital ulcers that worsen and spread and often cause bleeding. If left untreated, the infection can begin to destroy a person’s genital tissue and attack other parts of the body.
A course of antibiotics is required to fight the infection.
Dr Dutta added: “The initial symptoms are lumps around the genitals or anus that increase in size and appear fleshy-red in colour.
“These can develop into cysts, which can become infected without treatment, resulting in pain and an unpleasant odor. This is more likely to affect men.”
Data from Public Health England shows London has the most cases of donovanosis – 42 infections have been recorded in the past five years. There was a spike of 19 cases in 2019.
North-West England had the second highest number of cases with 21 in the same period.
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