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A rare sexually transmitted disease that can cause skin to decay is on the rise in England.
Donovanosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by contact that can cause skin to be destroyed, unless treated.
The STI, also known as klebsiella granulomatis, creates lesions around the groin and genital regions which can turn into foul-smelling ulcers if infected.
The condition is more normally found in tropical parts of the world such as Southern Africa and the Americas. The latest stats from Public Health England show that cases were on the rise before the outbreak of Covid-19.
Total reported instances across England swelled from 19 in 2016 to 30 in 2019. Even during the pandemic and related lockdowns, there were still 18 cases in England.
Dr Shree Datta, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the leading London MyHealthcare Clinic, said: “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.
Dr Datta revealed that Donovanosis symptoms normally emerge within a month of sexual contact with an infected person, although a small number of people can become infected just by skin-to-skin contact.
She added: “Using contraception significantly reduces the risk of contracting the disease, while it can be treated with antibiotics.
“But severe cases can lead to permanent scarring and damage to the genitals, as well as discolouration and even irreversible swelling, so this is definitely one to watch.”
The Public Health England data shows that London had the highest number of cases, with 42 recorded in both males and females over the past five years. That included a spike of 19 cases in 2019.
The North West was second in the rankings with 21 cases over the same time period, followed by Yorkshire and Humber (14) and the South East (11).
The overall figure for cases across England from 2016-2020 was 114 – in contrast to more than a million cases of Chlamydia and 266,000 of Gonorrhoea.