May 19, 2024

Case of Flesh-Eating STD’s on the Rise

STD word on cubes on a blue background with a jar of tablets. Medical concept.

Donovanosis is a sexually transmitted infection(STI); however, people sometimes call it the “flesh-eating STD” due to its symptoms. It does not eat your flesh; however, it causes thick, ulcer-like sores that may damage genital tissues. There are about 100 cases reported per year in the U.S.; however, it is extremely rare.

Donovanosis is still extremely rare, Pettigrew told USA TODAY. “But any increases in numbers are potentially concerning. Sexually Transmitted infections are often undaignosed and there may be missed infections so the true number could be slightly higher.”

Donovanosis occurs more often in subtropical or tropical regions of the world, meaning it is not common in the U.S. Most of the cases in the U.S. occur as a result of travel to areas where donovanosis is more common. This particular STI is also more prominent in the following countries and regions:

  • Brazil
  • the Caribbean
  • Southeast India
  • Southern Asia
  • Papua New Guinea


There are some symptoms from donovanosis may include:

  • widespread ulcers around genital area and anus
  • bulging red bumps that may grow in size
  • painless red bumps that bleed and grow back
  • damaged skin
  • loss of genital tissue color

Once you have been exposed you may start to see the symptoms in 1-4 months.

how it’s treated

Since it’s a bacterial infection, antibiotics can treat it. Treatment typically requires a long course of antibiotics, which may last at least 3 weeks or longer. Donovanosis may recur, in which you’ll need a new dose of antibiotic treatment. Follow-up examinations are important because the disease can reappear after it seemed to be cured.