A genital-rotting sex infection spreading in England has led to a firm warning from experts.
Until now a rare sexually transmitted infection known as Donovanosis, has been more commonly associated with countries like India and South Africa.
But before and even during coronavirus lockdown measures, Public Health England (PHE) reported cases of donovanosis had shot up.
If caught, a victim can expect lesions to form around their groin and amount to stinking ulcers if infected.
The 2016 total of 19 donovanosis cases shot up to 30 in 2019 and was still reported 18 times at a time when the government outlawed dating to tackle Covid-19.
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at London MyHealthcare Clinic Dr Shree Datta said: "As well as the awful symptoms, it’s important people are aware that it’s a known risk factor for the transmission of HIV.
"The early signs are lumps around the genitals or anus that increase in size and take on a beefy-red appearance.
"These can develop into ulcers that, without treatment, can become infected, which can result in pain and an unpleasant smell. It’s more likely to affect men."
Dr Datta said it can take up to a month to experience symptoms after engaging in sexual contact with someone already infected, The Sun reports.
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Worryingly something as simple as skin-to-skin contact can be enough to transmit donovanosis to a very unlucky few.
Dr Datta added: "Using contraception significantly reduces the risk of contracting the disease, while it can be treated with antibiotics.
"But severe cases can lead to permanent scarring and damage to the genitals, as well as discolouration and even irreversible swelling, so this is definitely one to watch."
London has been England's hotspot for donovanosis over the past five years, according to PHE which lists the North West in second place for the unwanted accolade.
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Yorkshire and the Humber and the South East reported the next most infections of the rare disease.
Far more common in the UK however is gonorrhoea, so much so that it has been named the worst-hit nation in Europe for the STI and fourth worst for chlamydia cases.
Pharmacy From Mars says of STIs: "They rely on person-to-person sexual contact in order to infect someone new, so infection rates tend to be pretty low compared to other infectious viruses such as the flu.
"However, if you’re not careful and you let passion cloud your better judgement, you could well end up with an unpleasant surprise."
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