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Flesh-Eating Ulcers Now an Epidemic in Australia

A once rare tissue destroying Ulcer in Australia has been spreading and is now an epidemic in regions of Victoria. An article published by Daniel O’Brien from Barwon Health in the Medical Journal of Australia said that incidents of the Buruli ulcer are rising, but researchers are puzzled as to why there are no cases in any of the surrounding states.

“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, adding “it is difficult to prevent a disease when it is not known how infection is acquired.”

Professor Paul Johnson is a renowned expert on the Buruli ulcer, and developed a highly accurate method for detecting the bacteria that causes the disease. Johnson is also trying to determine why the disease is only prevalent on the Mornington peninsulas and the Bellarine coastline. The disease is mostly found in swampland areas in tropical countries, with most cases being from Africa.

Symptoms associated with the infection begin with a painless lump on the skin, which may be brushed off as just a insect bite. From there, the infection burrows into a layer of fat that covers your muscles. Once at this layer, the bacteria spreads outwards, destroying tissue along the way before erupting back through the skin in the form of an ulcer. Individuals only know they have the infection once the ulcer appears, and when the ulcer erupts it is incredibly painful.

The authors of the article in the Medical Journal of Australia have called for urgent funding from the Australian government to research the bacteria and carry out a thorough investigation into environments the bacteria is found.

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Flesh-Eating Ulcers Now an Epidemic in Australia


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