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'Flesh Eating' STD Hits UK: What You Need To Know

Aug 24, 2018 09:50 PM EDT
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Any sexually transmitted infection is concerning, but flesh-eating STIs are even worse. A case of donovanosis in the United Kingdom sparks unease in the region, but doctors say the incident is rare and treatable.
(Photo : Pixabay)

If flesh-eating STD sounds horrifying, that's because it is. Known as donovanosis, the infection causes genital ulcers and rotting tissue — and now it's in England.

However, there might not be too much reason to panic over a reported case that's been spreading like wildfire online.

'Flesh-Eater' Confirmed In The United Kingdom

Liverpool Echo first reported the case of the flesh-eating sexually transmitted infection, which has been diagnosed in an unidentified woman in Southport, United Kingdom.

The woman, who is between 15 and 25 years old, was reportedly diagnosed in the last 12 months.

Unlike what many headlines have been reporting, this incident is not the first ever case of donovanosis in the United Kingdom. In an email to Health, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV says that the infection is found in the country, but it is extremely rare.

"We urge anyone who is concerned about their sexual health, or risks they have taken, to have a check-up and get tested by an expert at their local sexual health service — it is quick and easy to do," Dr. Mark Lawton, the chairman of the BASHH Media Group, says in Liverpool Echo.

What Is Donovanosis?

First, the bad news: like reports say, donovanosis can be a truly a gross experience. Transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, donovanosis is a bacterial infection that's characterized by red, beefy ulcerative lesions on the genitals, according to CDC.

In some cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body such as the pelvis, intra-abdominal organs, bones, or even the mouth.

"If they're left untreated, they really can cause destruction of the tissue around them, which is why people say it's 'flesh-eating' or that it causes skin to 'rot away,'" Marrazzo tells Health.

Fortunately, the infection isn't common at all in developed countries such as the United States, where only around 100 cases are reported each year. Marazzo even goes so far to say that she believes most medical practitioners in the country have not yet witnessed a case of donovanosis.

Instead, it's more prevalent in tropical and developing nations such as New Guinea, the Caribbean, Southern Africa, and Central Australia.

Furthermore, timely treatment can take care of the problem, so the infection doesn't progress to its more horrifying stages. Antibiotics have been shown to be effective, especially when the infection is caught early. However, relapses after several weeks can also occur.

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