Background Since 2003, outbreaks of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), caused by Chlamydia trachomatis genotypes L1-L3, have been described in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe. Awareness increased and enhanced surveillance systems were implemented and several countries in the European Union (EU/EEA) reported high numbers of LGV cases.
Methods Surveillance for chlamydia, including LGV, in EU/EEA is coordinated by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Since 2009, outbreak information across EU/EEA is shared via the Epidemic Intelligence Information System for STI (EPIS STI) hosted by ECDC. Data reported by Member States covering the period 2009–2012 were analysed. Individual countries were invited to update detailed information on LGV cases.
Results In 2009–2011, 1642 cases of LGV were reported by 7 Member States: 1630 in men (61% MSM). Median age was 39 years (range: 18 – 69). Overall, 909 LGV cases (55%) were HIV-positive. Through EPIS STI, 279 male and 2 female cases from additional 6 countries were reported, mainly in capital areas. Symptoms were reported for 132 cases: 105 cases with and 27 without symptoms. Proctitis was most commonly reported in men. Among those with known HIV status, 80% were HIV positive. 45% of cases in Spain were in migrants and 20% of the UK cases reported sexual contacts abroad.
Conclusions LGV remains to be primarily found in HIV positive MSM. Asymptomatic presentation hampers case detection and screening and routine genotyping among MSM were suggested to reduce further transmission of LGV. Screening practises differ across countries which results in diversity in number and nature of reported cases. Countries reported individual and clustered LGV cases in EPIS STI with more detailed information than in routine surveillance reports to ECDC. Efforts were made to increase European collaboration to get a better understanding of the evolving LGV epidemic in Europe.