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'Flesh-eating' STD reported in UK for first time

SOUTHPORT, UK (KRON) - A rare sexually transmitted disease that causes flesh-eating ulcers on the infected person's genitalia has been in reported in England, according to the Lancashire Post. 

The unidentified woman, who lives in Southport, is reportedly between the ages of 15 and 25 was diagnosed with donovanosis within the past year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), donovanosis (Granuloma Inguinale) is spread through sexual intercourse with an infected patient, or by coming into contact with a patient's infected ulcer. 

The CDC says the painless disease causes progressive ulcerative lesions on the genitals or perineum -- areas prone to heavy bleeding.

The STD is rarely reported in the United States but is endemic in some tropical and developing areas, including India, Papua New Guinea, the Caribbean, central Australia, and southern Africa. 

According to the Institute for Sexual Health, just a few dozen cases of donovanosis happen annually in the UK.

Officials say most UK and US cases occur after patients have unprotected sex in endemic countries.

While antibiotic treatment may stop the progression of lesions, patients are at risk of relapse for 6 to 8 months post-treatment.

According to the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), there have been no prior cases reported in the UK.

Donovanosis is treatable with antibiotics but time is of the essence as bacteria poses as a risk factor in the transmission of HIV, according to health officials.

The woman’s case came to light through a Freedom of Information request submitted by chemist-4-u.com, the Lancashire Post reported.

A pharmacist with chemist-4-u.com told the Lancashire Post that any delay in treatment “could cause the flesh around the genitals to literally rot away.”

The website submitted the request as part of its “The Great British STI Taboo” investigation, which reported that 69 percent of the 1,000 British adults polled had never been tested for an STD.

The investigation also reported that in 2017, 420,000 STDs were diagnosed in England, with chlamydia accounting for 48 percent of cases.

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