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ARCHIVED - Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

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In the News
Until recently LGV has been a rare infection in industrialized countries such as Canada. Prior to 2004 it had typically been an infection seen in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. However, recent cases of LGV have been reported in the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, and other European countries.

What is it
LGV is caused by bacteria. The bacteria which cause an LGV infection are a subtype of those responsible for Chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Canada and other developed countries. While the bacteria which cause LGV and Chlamydia are from the same group, the infections caused by LGV bacteria are more invasive.

How do you get it
Unprotected oral, vaginal, and anal sex (including unprotected fisting and sharing of dildos).

How can you Protect Yourself
The risk of infection can be reduced by using condoms or other barrier methods for oral, vaginal and anal sex.

What will Happen if you Catch it
After being exposed to the infection symptoms can start to appear between three to 30 days. A painless sore or lump may appear where the bacteria entered your body: vagina, penis, rectum, cervix or oral cavity. Because this sore or lump is often painless, may be internal, and resolves without treatment, the infected person may not know that he or she is infected. You may experience a low-grade fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. Your lymph nodes may then become swollen and painful in the area that was infected: groin, anal region or neck. If your infection was acquired through anal sex you may experience bloody or pussy discharge from your anus. If left untreated there can be scarring, and/or deformity to the genital/anal/cervical area depending again on the location of the infection. In rare cases, untreated infection can result in meningoencephalitis (inflammation and infection of your brain and spinal cord tissues), hepatitis (infection and inflammation of your liver) and death.

How are you Tested
Your doctor/health care provider may take samples/swabs from your vagina, anus, penis or oral cavity depending on the location of your symptoms and the type of sexual activity you have recently been practicing. You may also need to give a blood sample. You should also inform your doctor of any sexual contact that you have recently had while traveling, as certain STIs are more common in specific countries/regions.

Additional Tests
You should also be tested for other common STIs while testing for LGV. In the case of a positive LGV result, testing is recommended for HIV, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, as co-infections (more than one at a time) are common.

How is it Treated
Treatment is available to cure the LGV infection. This involves a three week course of antibiotics. Your sexual partners within the last 60 days should also be notified and treated.

Added Risk
If you have LGV symptoms (as described above) you may be at increased risk of getting HIV, other STIs, and infections that are transmitted through blood such as hepatitis C.

For additional information contact your local public health department.