‘Flesh-Eating’ STD That Causes ‘Beefy Red’ Sores Spreading In U.K.
Close up of a toilet roll with STD written on it
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A flesh-eating disease that is sexually transmitted — which causes what a report calls “beefy red” ulcers — is spreading across the United Kingdom.

The disease, donovanosis — also called granuloma inguinale — “is a bacterial infection that causes bloody sores and ulcers on the genitals,” Birmingham Live reported. “It is more common in tropical and subtropical climates like India, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, but Australia have also seen sporadic outbreaks,” said the paper.

“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,” Dr. Shree Datta from London’s MyHealthCare Clinic told the outlet. “As well as the awful symptoms, it’s important people are aware that it’s a known risk factor for the transmission of HIV.”

Health officials say there have been 30 cases of the STD in the U.K. in 2019, but more infections in the past two years, the doctor said. The disease is usually transmitted through unprotected sex, but can sometimes spread through non-sexual skin-on-skin contact.

“The typical symptoms of donovanosis are lumps around the genitals or anus that increase in size and take on a beefy-red appearance,” said Birmingham Live. “These can develop into ulcers that can become infected, which can result in pain and an unpleasant foul smell. A typical first sign you may have donovanosis is a nodule, sore, or open lesion in the genital area. To find out for sure, your healthcare provider will likely take skin scrapings and a blood test for analysis.” says donovanosis “needs immediate medical attention to help prevent long-term complications.”

“Your doctor will diagnose your condition based on a physical exam and biopsy from one of the sores. See your doctor right away if you experience:”

  • any ulcers in your genital or anal area
  • red bumps that may or may not be painful
  • bumps on your genitals that bleed and grow in size

Birmingham Live further reported: “Donovanosis does not actually eat your flesh, but has been dubbed ‘flesh-eating’ due to its gory appearance on the skin.”

STDs have been on the rise in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis hit an all-time high across the United States in 2019.

“For the fifth consecutive year, combined cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen in the United States, according to Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Tuesday,” reported CNN. “A rise in the prevalence and incidence of STDs can come with serious public health consequences and concerns, including infertility, drug-resistant gonorrhea and congenital syphilis, which can cause infant death.”

CDC epidemiologist Elizabeth Torrone, who helped author the report, said the combined total of 2.4 million diagnosed infections makes it “the most cases” recorded since the U.S. began monitoring.

“STDs cause a significant burden to the health care system — both in terms of direct medical costs for treating STDs as well as the personal cost for people who have an STD,” Torrone said. “As the STD epidemic continues to grow in the United States, the direct medical costs and the quality of life lost will just increase as well.”

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