It’s ulcer time again
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.’’
Jus Murray was diagnosed with a Daintree Ulcer