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How Rare ‘Flesh Eating’ STI Becoming More Common

The term sexually transmitted disease (STI) is used to refer to a condition passed from one person to another through sexual contact. A person can contract an STI by having unprotected sex with someone who has an STI. An STI may also be called a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or venereal disease (VD).

Rare ‘Flesh Eating’ STI

Donovanosis is a rare STI not seen often in the UK, it is more commonly found in India, New Guinea, the Caribbean, central Australia, and southern Africa.

The infection gained its “flesh-eating” nickname when it was first discovered in the UK. Unsurprisingly, the infection will not actually rot the flesh but it will cause painful ulcers around the genitals which can lead to permanent scarring.


Symptoms include "beefy red" spreading ulcers on the genital area, but according to WebMD, if left untreated, donovanosis ulcers can keep growing and, over time, could damage or destroy larger areas of skin. Countries in Africa, South America, South-East Asia have a higher incidence of this infection.

A biopsy is often taken which is looked at under a microscope; where typical 'Donovan Bodies' can be seen. It is treated with a longer, typically three-week, course of antibiotics. This particular STI is worrying because if left untreated it can cause permanent genital damage, scarring, and discoloration. If you are concerned you've contracted Donovanosis, Dr. Sagoo says that "Symptoms will generally occur between 1 and 10 weeks of exposure to the bacteria." Sagoo recommends seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible.


The best way to protect yourself is to ensure you use condoms during any type of sex and avoid having sex with anyone who has visible ulcers around the genitals. When used properly, condoms provide effective protection against many STDs. For optimal protection, it’s important to use condoms.

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