It’s ul­cer time again

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - An­gelique Pat­ter­son

THERE have been a cou­ple cases of Dain­tree Ul­cers re­ported to Queens­land Health this year, fol­low­ing the first rains of the wet sea­son.

The Dain­tree Ul­cer, also known as Bu­ruli, Bairns­dale or Searls ul­cer, is of­ten re­ported dur­ing or af­ter wet sea­sons and while lit­tle is known on the ul­cer that ef­fects spe­cific re­gions across the world, re­search is pro­gress­ing.

Se­nior vas­cu­lar and gen­eral sur­geon at the Cairns Hospi­tal and res­i­dent Dain­tree Ul­cer ex­pert Dr Christina St­ef­fen said there were very few cases last year, coin­cid­ing with a very dry wet, but she has seen a cou­ple of cases this year al­ready.

‘‘It does seem to be re­lated to the amount of rain­fall con­sid­er­ing last year it was pretty dry and in 2011, which was a big year, it was the year that rained and rained,’’ Dr St­ef­fen said.

‘‘We have had two this year, but if a GP gives people an­tibi­otics we might not hear about their case. We only know when GPs send me the in­for­ma­tion; they should be try­ing to send it to us so we can ac­tu­ally have a proper case se­ries.’’

Dain­tree Vil­lage res­i­dent Jus Mur­ray is re­cov­er­ing from a Dain­tree Ul­cer which she dis­cov­ered in a wound on her an­kle. It has been treated with strong an­tibi­otics and by go­ing in to see the doc­tor’s ev­ery day to get her wound re-dressed and cleaned.

‘‘It started when I was on the beach,’’ she said. ‘‘I had my dog on a lead near the stinger net on Four Mile when other (un­leashed) dogs ran up and started fight­ing. The leash wrapped around my leg and when the dog tried to chase the dogs away it pulled and I re­alised I was bleed­ing, I had a hor­ri­ble cut,’’ she ex­plained.

‘‘I was al­ready on an­tibi­otics for what I thought might be a spi­der bite and so I left it. A cou­ple days later I went for a swim in a creek (in the Dain­tree) think­ing the wa­ter would do me some good, but it was the worst thing I could do – in 24 hours my leg had swollen up and it was in­cred­i­bly itchy.

‘‘I went to the doc­tor’s a cou­ple of days later be­cause I couldn’t walk and they swabbed it straight away, gave me strong an­tibi­otics, which meant I was on an­tibi­otics for a month and I had to get it dressed ev­ery day. It all hap­pened so fast, and af­ter do­ing some re­search I be­lieve my ‘Spi­der bite’ was ac­tu­ally also a Dain­tree Ul­cer.’’

Ms Mur­ray said she caught Dain­tree Ul­cer just af­ter the heavy rains and al­though Dr St­ef­fen agrees there is a strong cor­re­la­tion, she said they would be able to know more over a pe­riod of time study­ing ul­cers.

‘‘Over the next five years we will have even more idea about it. What we do know is it’s in the en­vi­ron­ment but not free-liv­ing – it can­not live out in the dirt or at least not for very long or in its nor­mal form,’’ Dr St­ef­fen said.

‘‘In Vic­to­ria they found it in pos­sums, so we are start­ing to look at some of the an­i­mals up here con­sid­er­ing we don’t have a lot of pos­sums – lo­cal people have been help­ing sup­ply march flies and mos­qui­toes.

‘‘One thing to watch out for is it does seem con­nected with the amount of in­sect life, people are of­ten reporting hav­ing been bit­ten by some­thing but it is not fully ex­plained – I’ve had people who claim to have been spiked by a bougainvil­lea in the leg.

‘‘Cur­rent re­search shows it has to be mi­cro-in­jected un­der the skin.’’

Pic­ture: AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

RE­COV­ER­ING:

Jus Mur­ray was di­ag­nosed with a Dain­tree Ul­cer

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