Flesh eating ulcers on rise in Australia

Buruli ulcers are on the rise in Victoria with 30 reported cases so far in 2018

Buruli ulcers are on the rise in Victoria with 30 reported cases so far in 2018

The third edition of Tropical Infectious Diseases describes Mycobacterium ulcerans infection - otherwise known as the Buruli ulcer - as a "necrotizing infection of the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and bone". The infection often leads to ulcers on arms or legs, destroying the skin or soft tissue.

In Australia's Victoria state, the number of cases jumped from under 50 in 2005 to nearly 250 past year - with the number having risen significantly in 2016 and 2017.

The most frightening thing about a flesh-eating bacteria multiplying at a rapid rate in parts of Australia is that doctors don't know how to prevent it. "This uncertainty is epitomized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which notes that the type of people that are infected, and the fact the disease specifically manifests itself in a case-by-case way, "[varies] considerably within and across different countries and settings".

The bacterium that causes the disease belongs to the same family of organisms that cause tuberculosis and leprosy.

Infections have also become more severe and spread to new areas.

They are also baffled as to why most of the Australian infections have been in the state of Victoria, while New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have been mostly spared.

Global limit agreed for greenhouse gas emissions from shipping
UGS believes the solution is "a balanced political compromise and one that could be workable for the shipping industry". These emissions should also be phased out "as soon as possible in this century".

The researchers said efforts to control the disease have been severely hampered because the environmental reservoir and mode of transmission to humans remain unknown.

"It is hard to prevent a disease when it is not known how infection is acquired", write the authors, led by Dr. Daniel O'Brien, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne.

The disease is believed to spread through mosquitoes, or through the faeces of possums that have been bitten by mosquitoes.

The doctors say what is needed now is urgent research.

"As a community, we are facing a rapidly worsening epidemic of a severe disease without knowing how to prevent it", the report concludes.

"It is only when we are armed with this critical knowledge that we can hope to halt the devastating impact of this disease through the design and implementation of effective public health interventions".

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