Woman contracts rare ‘flesh-eating’ STD in United Kingdom, reports say

A rare, sexually transmitted disease that can destroy genital tissue has turned up for the first time in the United Kingdom, health officials warn.

An unnamed female patient in Southport between the ages of 15 and 25 was reportedly diagnosed with donovanosis within the last 12 months, according to the Lancashire Post.

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Donovanosis is spread through sexual intercourse with an infected person, or by coming in contact with a patient's infected ulcer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is typically seen in tropical climates, in countries including India, New Guinea, parts of the Caribbean, Australia and Africa, according to Britain's National Institute of Health (NIH).

The STD can be treated with antibiotics, but patients are at risk of relapse for up to 18 months after treatment.

According to the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, there have been no prior cases of donovanosis reported within the UK.

The disease can start out as small sores, or ulcers, on the genitals. The sores grow larger and form raised, red bumps that bleed easily, according to SA Health, South Africa's public health system.

As the disease spreads, it can destroy genital tissue and cause the skin around the area to lose color, NIH officials said.

In rare cases, the disease may also spread through oral sex, according to SA Health. Women can also transmit on the bacteria to infants during childbirth. Symptoms can appear between one and 12 weeks after exposure to the bacteria.

Donovanosis is treatable with antibiotics, which often need to be taken for several weeks. Treating the disease early can reduce complications, including genital damage and scarring, NIH stated.

The woman's case came to light through a Freedom of Information request submitted by chemist-4-u.com, the Lancashire Post reported. It is unclear how the woman became infected or what complications she may have faced from the illness.

The website submitted the request as part of an investigation called "The Great British STI Taboo," which reported that 69 percent of 1,0000 British adults polled have never been tested for an STD.

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