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AU: Victoria is in the midst of a flesh-eating ulcer outbreak

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  • AU: Victoria is in the midst of a flesh-eating ulcer outbreak


    Victoria is in the midst of a flesh-eating ulcer outbreak
    21 hours ago
    3AW Breakfast

    Victoria is facing an outbreak of flesh-eating Buruli ulcers, with a 400 per cent increase the number of reported cases in the last four years.

    Experts are calling for urgent government funding for research into the condition.

    One of those experts is Associate Professor Daniel O’Brien, infectious diseases consultant at Barwon Health. He told 3AW Breakfast that the risk factors for the disease are currently unknown.

    “We don’t 100 percent know how you acquire it and where it lives in the environment. How are we supposed to design effective public health interventions if we don’t know that basic scientific information?” he said.

    “What I’m seeing more and more is people severely affected… and not knowing how to prevent it, and I just think that’s an unacceptable situation.”

    The disease first appeared on the Bellarine Peninsula and has now spread to the Mornington Peninsula....

  • #2
    APRIL 26 2018 - 5:59PM

    $3m Vic research to beat flesh-eating bug

    Benita Kolovos
    University of Melbourne professor Tim Stinear will lead a two-year $3 million research project into Buruli ulcer which is believed to be linked to mosquitoes in spreading the bacteria to humans.

    "Southeast Australia is one of the few places outside of west Africa where Buruli ulcer is prevalent," he told the Doherty Institute on Thursday.
    In Victoria, the number of people contracting the disease has increased, with 182 new cases in 2016, 275 in 2017 and 30 so far in 2018 - and experts say there is potential for the disease to affect thousands in the state each year.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela


    • #3
      Possible new transmission areas for Buruli ulcer in Victoria

      Status: Active Health advisory: 180002 Date Issued: 31 Oct 2019 (update to 3 May 2018 Advisory) Issued by: Dr Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer Issued to: Health professionals and community.
      Key messages

      • Buruli ulcer, caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, is a growing concern in Victoria, with a steady increase in notifications since 2015 in people who have travelled to or live in endemic areas.
      • Endemic areas include the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, but recent cases suggest that Aireys Inlet (Surf Coast) and the Geelong suburb of Belmont are possible new areas of local transmission.
      • Early diagnosis is critical to prevent skin and tissue loss – consider the diagnosis in patients with a persistent ulcer, nodule, papule, or oedema and cellulitis especially on exposed parts of the body.
      • Laboratory testing for Buruli ulcer is now free for patients (a handling fee may be charged by private pathology companies).
      • People of any age can get infected. Symptoms can occur four weeks to ten months after exposure.
      • The exact mode of transmission is still unclear, but there is increasing evidence that mosquitoes play a role so avoiding mosquito bites is recommended.
      • Buruli ulcer must be notified to the Department within five days of diagnosis.

      What is the issue?

      Buruli ulcer is a skin infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans (M. ulcerans) usually presenting as a slowly developing painless nodule or papule which can initially be mistaken for an insect bite. Over time the lesion can progress to develop into a destructive skin ulcer which is known as Buruli ulcer or Bairnsdale ulcer.
      The highest risk is associated with the active transmission areas of Rye, Sorrento, Blairgowrie and Tootgarook on the Mornington Peninsula. There is a moderate risk associated with areas in the Bellarine Peninsula (Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff), Frankston and Seaford areas. There is a low risk associated with the rest of the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsula, the South Eastern Bayside suburbs and East Gippsland. Together, all these areas are considered the endemic parts of Victoria for Buruli ulcer transmission.
      Recent cases from Aireys Inlet on the Surf Coast and the Geelong suburb of Belmont suggest that these are emerging areas of local transmission. Two cases were identified in residents in Aireys Inlet and two in Belmont during 2019, with no known travel to an endemic area. The risk of transmission in these areas is considered low.

      In 2018 there were 340 cases of Buruli ulcer reported in Victoria. This compares with 277 cases in 2017, 182 cases in 2016 and 107 cases in 2015. There have been 240 cases of Buruli ulcer notified in 2019 year to date in Victoria.
      When recognised early, diagnostic testing is straightforward if guidelines are followed (see below) and prompt treatment can significantly reduce skin loss and tissue damage, as well as lead to more simplified treatment...


      • #4

        A terrifying disease stalks seaside Australia: Flesh-eating ulcers
        By Livia Albeck-Ripka
        The New York Times |
        Mar 31, 2021 at 3:49 PM

        SORRENTO, AUSTRALIA — To Rob Courtney, it looked like a sunburn. But after a few days, the redness and inflammation got worse. Soon, the skin on his right foot was split open, the wound oozing. His doctor sent him straight to the emergency room.

        Then came the horrifying diagnosis: Courtney was infected with a species of flesh-eating bacteria.

        In recent years, cases of the disease, known as Buruli ulcer, have exploded in the seaside area where Courtney, 80, lives in southeastern Australia.

        As he would learn, it is a fearsome intruder.

        The ulcer left the flesh on his foot corroded and gangrenous. It devoured a skin graft. Eventually, doctors prescribed the same powerful antibiotics used to treat leprosy and tuberculosis. The drugs made him feel nauseated and fatigued, and turned his sweat and tears orange. He spent nearly 50 days in the hospital.

        “It’s been a bit of a journey,” Courtney said recently as he lay on an examination table at his local clinic, where he has endured a daily wound dressing for several weeks. “I wouldn’t recommend it.”

        Buruli ulcer has been reported in 33 countries, primarily in Africa, where a lack of access to health care can mean that cases go on for months, sometimes resulting in disfigurement and disability.

        In Australia, where cases of the ulcer have been recorded since the 1940s, the recent increase in infections has brought new attention to the neglected disease. That, along with a growing global interest in infectious diseases, has raised hopes that scientists might finally have the resources to crack its code.

        The area hit hardest in Australia is the Mornington Peninsula, in the state of Victoria. More than 180 cases per year have been reported in the state since 2016, peaking in 2018 at 340. In February, the disease crept further into the suburbs of Melbourne, a city of 5 million people.

        No one knows exactly how the infection spreads or why it has flared on the Mornington Peninsula, an affluent region less than 50 miles from Melbourne where cafes line leafy boulevards and thousands of tourists visit each year...