Brits warned as ‘flesh-eating STI’ is on the rise

Experts have warned that cases of donovanosis, otherwise known as klebsiella granulomatis, a rare flesh-destroying STI, is on the rise in the UK.

Brits warned as ‘flesh-eating STI’ is on the rise
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Brits warned as ‘flesh-eating STI’ is on the rise

Over the last year, the UK has seen a plunge in STIs as lockdowns and other coronavirus prevention methods have made us all much more aware of other people’s cooties. However, it looks like we’ve started making up for lost time as STIs are coming back with a vengeance.

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Experts have now warned that cases of donovanosis are on the rise. In case you’re not familiar with this specific brand of STI, it’s not a good one and can even cause ulcers and lesions on your genitals.

What is Donovanosis?

Donovanosis, otherwise known as klebsiella granulomatis or the ‘flesh-eating STI’, is a rare sexually transmitted genital ulcer disease caused by a specific bacteria infecting the skin around our genitals, groin and anus.

Donovanosis is typically spread through unprotected penetrative and oral intercourse, and according to Healthline, can be detected through symptoms of:

  • Ulcers around the genital area and anus
  • Large red bumps that may grow in size
  • Painless red bumps that bleed and grow back
  • Damaged skin
  • Change or loss of genital tissue colour

Donovanosis is on the rise in England

TheSTI is typically found in areas such as South Africa and India, but health experts have warned donovanosis has made its way into England, with cases rising from just 19 in 2016 to 30 by 2019. Despite lockdowns keeping casual sex at bay, 18 cases of the rare disease were still reported in the Uk last year.

While 20-30 cases may not seem like enough to stress about, donovanosis isn’t something you want to catch and can lead to foul-smelling ulcers, permanent scarring and swelling if left untreated.

Dr Shree Datta, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at London MyHealthcare Clinic, told The Sun: ‘These figures suggest that donovanosis – which was previously thought to be restricted to places including India, Brazil and New Guinea – is becoming more common on these shores.’

As well as the awful symptoms, it’s important people are aware that it’s a known risk factor for the transmission of HIV. The early signs are lumps around the genitals or anus that increase in size and take on a beefy-red appearance.

‘These can develop into ulcers that, without treatment, can become infected, which can result in pain and an unpleasant smell. It’s more likely to affect men.’

To prevent yourself from catching donovanosis or STIs of any kind, it’s important to use barrier contraceptives such as condoms when having sex. It’s also a good idea to visit your doctor and get tested regularly. If you do catch an STI like donovanosis or chlamydia (which has high rates in the UK), you can be prescribed antibiotics to treat it.

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