Flesh-eat­ing ul­cer spread­ing rapidly

Bu­ruli ul­cer cases surg­ing and now at epi­demic pro­por­tions in parts of Vic­to­ria

Gulf News - - World -

Ase­vere tis­sue-de­stroy­ing ul­cer once rare in Aus­tralia is rapidly spread­ing and is now at epi­demic pro­por­tions in re­gions of Vic­to­ria, prompt­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases ex­perts to call for ur­gent re­search into how it is con­tracted and spread.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Med­i­cal Jour­nal of Aus­tralia (MJA) yes­ter­day, au­thors led by as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Daniel O’Brien from Bar­won Health said in­ci­dents of Bu­ruli ul­cer were on the rise but re­searchers were baf­fled as to why Vic­to­ria was be­ing par­tic­u­larly af­fected. There have been no re­ported cases in New South Wales, South Aus­tralia or Tas­ma­nia.

In 2016, there were 182 new cases of the ul­cer in Vic­to­ria — the high­est ever re­ported by 72 per cent, O’Brien said. But he added that cases re­ported un­til 11 Novem­ber 2017 had further in­creased by 51 per cent com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2016, from 156 cases to 236 cases.

“De­spite be­ing recog­nised in Vic­to­ria since 1948, ef­forts to con­trol the dis­ease have been se­verely ham­pered be­cause the en­vi­ron­men­tal reser­voir and mode of trans­mis­sion to hu­mans re­main un­known,” O’Brien said. The first sign of in­fec­tion is usu­ally a pain­less lump on the skin of­ten dis­missed as an in­sect bite.

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