Doctors are being urged to consider testing for a little-known type of sexually transmitted disease that can make people very unwell.
A conference in Wellington involving family planning, sexual health and abortion providers were told the results of new Massey University research about a disease known as LGV, caused by infection with a type of chlamydia.
The leader of the research team, Collette Bromhead, said its study involving 264 Wellington patients showed just over 4 percent had the LGV form of chlamydia.
She said that was high compared to international comparisons, and mainly involved men who had a rectal infection with LGV.
"But we also had one in the eye and one in the throat which haven't been identified in New Zealand before in those sites," Dr Bromhead said.
"So the data really just shows that we need to raise awareness among clinicians of the need to test for LGV, and to treat this potential severe disease before it can progress."
She said it could not be treated with the antibiotics usually used for chlamydia and, if left untreated, it could develop into severe bowel disease.
"And the problem with it is that it looks like Crohn's disease, it looks like inflammatory bowel disease to the surgeon, so it tends to get treated incorrectly and they get sicker and sicker.
"And there have been cases of people who have ended up on colostomy bags ... when really they just needed some antibiotics."
She said wider testing for LGV should be considered and, in the meantime, the antibiotic doxycycline was the best treatment.