Flesh-eating ulcer spreading rapidly
Buruli ulcer cases surging and now at epidemic proportions in parts of Victoria
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.