Health - Flesh Eating Ulcers Stalk Victoria
Victoria is undergoing a gruesome epidemic of flesh-eating Buruli ulcers. Hundreds of cases have been reported.
A new report in the Medical Journal of Australia says the government needs to step up with funding because the spread of these nasty bacterial infections: "If you look at the cases notified in Victoria in the last four years its gone up by more than 400 percent," said Professor Daniel O'Brien, the executive director of infectious diseases at Barwon Health. "We're in the midst of a serious epidemic. It's very difficult to prevent it and address it with effective public health interventions if we don't know that really basic scientific information."
The infection starts with a small sore, but gets worse - much worse.
"It can really become very severe and eats away at the skin and soft tissue," said Professor O'Brien, who notes the flesh-eating infection leads to "long-term cosmetic deformities, even mobility issues". And, "Occasionally it's actually associated with death," he said.
Buruli ulcers are caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, which is found in equatorial Africa and for some reason is running rampant in Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula onto the Mornington Peninsula. It's thought to be spread by mosquitoes that bite infected possums before moving on to humans, more research is needed to confirm that.