BACKGROUND: Whereas until 2003 Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) was rare in industrialised countries, there have been increasing reports of cases of LGV proctitis in men having sex with men (MSM) over the last six years in Europe, America and Australia.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: After the alarming message from the Netherlands in 2003, physicians in a dermatological and STI private clinic in Zurich started examining rectal swabs from patients with proctitis for LGV serovars of C. trachomatis on a regular basis. A test system based on PCR with sequencing and databank comparison was used. Clinical files of all patients with proctitis observed in this time period were examined.
RESULTS: Since 2003 twelve cases of proctitis, all in MSM, caused by the LGV serovar L2 C. trachomatis were observed. Of the overall 11 patients the majority were HIV positive and only 2 were HIV negative. Only one patient reported previous sexual contacts outside Europe (Thailand) as the likely place of infection. The clinical presentation was characterised by anorectal pain, discharge, tenesmus and change in stool frequency. Four patients were successfully treated with a single dose of 1 g azithromycin. In all seven cases treated with doxycycline 2 x 100 mg for 10-20 days clinical cure and a negative PCR result after treatment were observed, except for one patient lost to follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: Zurich has not been spared by the recent outbreaks of LGV proctitis in MSM. Anorectal LGV infections may progress to severe destructive changes, with formation of granulomas, strictures, and perirectal abscesses. Increased awareness of this problem and establishment of reliable diagnostic tools are required.