Donovanosis (granuloma inguinale)

Definition

Donovanosis (granuloma inguinale) is a sexually transmitted disease that is rarely seen in the United States.

Causes

Donovanosis (granuloma inguinale) is caused by the bacterium Klebsiella granulomatis. The disease is commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas such as southeast India, Guyana, and New Guinea. There are about 100 cases reported per year in the United States. Most of these cases occur in people who have traveled to or are from places where the disease is common.

The disease spreads mostly through vaginal or anal intercourse. Very rarely, it spreads during oral sex.

Men are affected more than twice as often as women. Most infections occur in people ages 20 to 40.

Symptoms

Symptoms can occur 1 to 12 weeks after coming in contact with the bacteria that cause the disease.

In its early stages, it may be hard to tell the difference between donovanosis and chancroid.

In the later stages, donovanosis may look like advanced genital cancers, lymphogranuloma venereum, and anogenital cutaneous amebiasis.

Exams and Tests

Tests that may be done include:

Laboratory tests, similar to those used to detect syphilis, are available only on a research basis for diagnosing donovanosis.

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat donovanosis. These may include azithromycin, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. To cure the condition, long-term treatment is needed. Most treatment courses run 3 weeks or until the sores have completely healed.

A follow-up examination is important because the disease can reappear after it seems to be cured.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Treating this disease early decreases the chances of tissue damage or scarring. Untreated disease leads to damage of the genital tissue.

Possible Complications

Health problems that may result from this disease include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

Prevention

Avoiding all sexual activity is the only absolute way to prevent a sexually transmitted disease such as donovanosis. However, safer sex behaviors may reduce your risk.

The proper use of condoms, either the male or female type, greatly decreases the risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease. You need to wear the condom from the beginning to the end of each sexual activity.


Review Date: 9/27/2017
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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