NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Navarra Institute of Public and Labor Health (ISPLN) are reporting an increase in cases of the sexually transmitted infection (STI), Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV).

Image/Robert Herriman

Year to date, 17 cases have been reported. This compares to a maximum of eight cases detected in previous years.

Men who have multiple sexual partners and have unprotected sex are at the highest risk of infection. All the cases this year have been in young adult men and their presentation was in the form of proctitis (inflammation of the rectum).

Health officials say it is important keeping LGV in mind since it can be confused with other diseases and delay the diagnosis.

Also known as Lymphogranuloma inguinale and tropical bubo, Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted chlamydial infection caused by three related but distinct types of Chlamydia trachomatis (L-1, L2 and L-3).

These are different than the types that cause non-gonococcal urethritis/cervicitis in men and women respectively.

This bacterium is transmitted primarily through sexual contact (oral, genital or anal) and with any direct contact with open lesions. It is believed to be transmissible via skin to skin contact.

The infection is characterized by small painless papules, nodules or ulcers which may form on the penis or within the urethra in men, and on the vulva, vaginal wall or cervix in women. This lesion frequently may go unnoticed. It may take from 3-30 days before the primary lesion appears.

Lymph nodes in the area near the infection typically swell and the presence of inguinal or femoral buboes may be seen. In women these external node are rarely affected, but proctitis may be the result of swelling of the pelvic nodes extending to the rectum.

For those that practice rectal intercourse, proctitis may be a manifestation of the disease. Rectal ulcers, discharge, pain and bleeding are also common presentations.

Elephantiasis of the genitals in both men and women may occur in cases of untreated LGV.

Like other ulcer forming sexually transmitted infections (STI) like syphilis, chancroid and herpes; LGV increases the chance of getting HIV.

LGV can be treated successfully with antibiotics (doxycycline with azithromycin as an alternative) for all stages of infection including lesions and buboes.

As with other ulcerative STI’s, LGV can still be transmitted even with condom use if infected areas are not covered.