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Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts

Type of Infection: Chancroid is a type of genital ulcer disease caused by the Hemophilus ducreyi bacteria.

Prevalence of Chancroid: Chancroid occurs more frequently in the developing world. However, chancroid is common in selected areas of the United States, and outbreaks have occurred in settings where sex is exchanged for drugs or money.

Modes of Transmission for Chancroid: Chancroid can be sexually transmitted if there is skin-to-skin contact with the open sores. Non-sexual transmission is also possible if a person comes into contact with the pus-like fluid oozing from the ulcer.

Symptoms of Chancroid: Women are frequently without symptoms, but ulcers may occur internally and go unnoticed. Usually a single painful ulcer, surrounded by inflamed edges, appears in men. Ulcers may be dead skin or severely erosive with a ragged, creeping border. Painful inguinal diseased lymph nodes (bubo) appear in about half of the cases and may rupture in 25% to 60% of cases. Ulcers usually occur below the head of the penis, glans, or shaft of the penis.

Treatment of Chancroid: Infection can be cured with antibiotics. However, people infected with HIV have higher rates of treatment failure.

Possible Consequences of Chancroid for the Infected Person: Chancroid does not usually spread to the rest of the body. Sores may become secondarily infected resulting in tissue death. Buboes may rupture and discharge pus. Ulcers on the prepuce may cause paraphimosis (a medical condition where the foreskin becomes trapped behind the glans penis, and cannot be pulled back to its normal position) or phimosis (where the foreskin cannot be fully retracted from the head of the penis). Both men and women infected with chancroid are at greater risk of contracting HIV, if exposed to the virus.

Possible Consequences of Chancroid for the Fetus and Newborn: It is not believed that chancroid results in any serious effects on the fetus during pregnancy or the baby after birth, but a woman with chancroid should inform her doctor.

Prevention of Chancroid: Chancroid can be prevented by abstinence (avoiding any sexual contact) and by being in a monogamous relationship with a disease-free partner. Condoms can reduce but not eliminate the risk of spreading the disease.

Source of Information: JM Marrazzo, F Guest, W Cates, "Reproductive Tract Infections," In Hatcher et al, Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2007.
Photo Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, "Chancroid," STD Clinical Slides, 2003, www.cdc.gov/std/training/clinicalslides.