Objective: To investigate recent trends in reported cases of donovanosis (granuloma inguinale) in Durban, South Africa.
Design: The annual reports of the Medical Officer of Health for Durban 1958-1988 were reviewed to identify cases of donovanosis, genital ulcer disease (GUD) and new patients with sexually transmitted diseases (STD). A rapid staining technique for the detection of Donovan bodies was introduced in 1988.
Setting: City Health STD Clinic, King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban.
Results: An initial peak was identified in men 1969-1974. A second peak was recorded in 1988 when reported cases of donovanosis (313) were the highest since records commenced. Both peaks were unrelated to either increases in the numbers of new attenders with STD or patients with GUD.
Conclusion: The recent increase in donovanosis in Durban may reflect either a new epidemic or under-reporting of a disease previously diagnosed on clinical grounds. Improved control of donovanosis, a condition sometimes causing extensive GUD, and which has been implicated in HIV-1 transmission in local men, should be targeted in HIV control programmes.