Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Hemophilus ducreyi. It is characterized by one or more painful ulcers in the genital area that can progressively enlarge and are accompanied by painful swollen lymph glands.

Where does it occur?

The illness occurs worldwide, but is most common in tropical and subtropical areas. It is especially common in individuals of low socio-economic status and prostitutes.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted by direct sexual contact with sores or material from these sores.

Is it contagious from person to person?

Yes !! through sexual intercourse as long as the sores and lymph glands are draining and not healed over or fully treated.

What is the risk for travelers?

Generally low, unless engaging in unprotected sex with infected individuals. Females may only have lesions inside the vagina and cervix and thus not be symptomatic externally.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Anywhere from 1-2 wks.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms begin as a small painful lump or nodule in the genital or anal area with surrounding redness. This progresses to erode and enlarge into ulcers.

Many small ulcers can merge to form large erosions and get secondary infections that can be disfiguring. Nearly half the people also develop painful, enlarged lymph nodes of the groin which themselves can erode.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

The drainage from the lesion when observed under the microscope shows the typical bacteria as small blue rods. PCR tests are only available in research labs.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics like azithromycin and rocephin are effective.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Do not engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with those you do not know, especially prostitutes. Ulcerative lesions also increase the risk of contracting HIV dramatically.

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