Here’s What You Need To Know About The Rare ‘Flesh Eating’ STI Doctors Are Warning About

Just as we're about to start 'socialising' again, someone has to bring up flesh-eating genital ulcers... sigh.

Woman at doctor

by Georgia Aspinall |

A rare, ‘flesh-eating’ sexually transmitted infection is on the rise in the UK, because hey, why not ruin the last enjoyable activity we have, right? According to reports, Donovanosis - which causes a person to develop red ‘flesh-eating’ genital ulcers’ - is becoming more common among Brits although cases are still extremely rare.

The UK currently experiences 20 to 30 cases of Donovanosis every year, with the infection more common in India, South America and Southeast Asia. However, Dr Shree Datta from MyHealthCare Clinic has warned that figures suggest it is becoming ‘more common on these shores’ and has encouraged people to look out for early signs of infection.

‘The early signs are lumps around the genitals or anus that increase in size and take on a beefy-red appearance,’ Dr Datta said. ‘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.’

The painful genital ulcers can cause bleeding and 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, with symptoms usually appearing one to 12 weeks after infection.

Of course, now everyone is panicking, with 'rare flesh eating STI' a major breakout search term on Google this morning. But never fear, cases of Donavanosis are still extremely rare.

According to data from Public Health England, London has the highest number of cases of Donovanosis with 42 infections in the last five years including a spike of 19 in 2019. If 19 in one year was the peak, you would have to be extremely unlucky to contract this infection.

Of course, you can reduce your risk of infection by using the usual barrier methods.

‘External and internal condoms are preferred preventive measures because they help protect you and your partner(s) from exposure to bodily fluids that may contain the bacteria,’ Healthline reports. ‘Oral contraceptives like birth control pills or IUDs don’t prevent STIs. Only barrier methods like condoms can prevent STIs. The only way to completely prevent donovanosis or any other STI is by abstinence. However, you can greatly reduce your risk by using a barrier method.’

So, there you have it… just in case you were hoping to get back out on the town after 18 months of cautious socialising, don’t forget to look out for a flesh-eating STI on your travels!

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