‘Highly contagious’ new STD on the rise as first case reported in US

The first case of a rare, sexually transmitted form of ringworm has been reported in the USA. Experts warn that the disease is “highly contagious”.

A new strain of a sexually transmitted fungus called Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII was discovered in a man in his thirties.

Doctors at NYU Langone Health in New York City have just published details of this sexually transmitted disease caused by fungal infections in the journal JAMA Dermatology—at a time when doctors around the world are increasingly reporting problems treating fungal infections.

“Healthcare providers should be aware that Trichophyton mentagrophytes type VII [TMVII] is the latest in a group of serious skin infections that have now reached the United States,” said Avrom S. Caplan, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Dr. Caplan is co-author of the case study published Wednesday about an unidentified New York man who became infected with TMVII.

After visits to England, Greece and California, he developed a rash on his penis, buttocks and limbs.

He reported that during his travels he had sex with several men, none of whom had similar skin problems. NBC reports.

In Europe, cases of TMVII are increasing, particularly in men who have sex with men. There are currently no known cases in Australia.

“Because patients are often hesitant to discuss genital problems, physicians need to ask directly about rashes in the groin and buttocks, especially in sexually active patients who have recently traveled abroad and report itchy spots elsewhere on the body,” advises lead study author Dr. John G. Zampella.

Dr. Zampella noted that infections caused by TMVII appear to respond to standard antifungals, such as the drug terbinafine, but can take months to clear up. They can also be confused with lesions caused by eczema, which can delay treatment.

Another itchy and contagious skin infection that causes rashes similar to TMVII poses a greater challenge for dermatologists, according to the New York Post reports.

Trichophyton indotineae — the bacterium widespread in India that was first confirmed in the United States last year — often resists treatment with terbinafine, said researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

They analyzed data from 11 men and women who were treated for Trichophyton indotineae in New York hospitals between May 2022 and May 2023.

Seven of the patients received standard doses of terbinafine. Their rashes did not improve, possibly due to genetic mutations in the fungus.

The antifungal drug itraconazole showed better results, but Dr. Caplan warned that the drug could interfere with the effectiveness of other medications and cause nausea and diarrhea, among other side effects.

Dr. Caplan said dermatologists should be on the lookout for TMVII and Trichophyton indotineae, but numbers in the U.S. are low so far. His team hopes to expand research on those two fungal species in the coming months.

“This [initial] “The findings provide new insights into how some of the fungal skin infections originating in South Asia can evade our standard therapies,” said Dr. Caplan. “Physicians must not only learn to recognize the misleading signs, but also ensure that their treatment meets the quality of life needs of each patient.”

— with the New York Post

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