Mac Slavo – April 17, 2018
An infectious flesh-eating ulcer caused by a bacteria is spreading so quickly through Australia that scientists in the state of Victoria are declaring this outbreak an epidemic. Normally abundant in West and central Africa and, the buruli ulcer is now taking hold in the “land down under.”
In a study published Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia, the authors caution that the outbreak of the ulcers, described as an “epidemic” in the study, requires an “urgent scientific response.” They report that Victoria is facing a worsening epidemic “defined by cases rapidly increasing in number, becoming more severe in nature, and occurring in new geographic areas.”
Buruli ulcer is caused by infection with the organism Mycobacterium ulcerans. It often affects the skin by deteriorating the tissue, but can go so deep it affects the bone structure. The organism belongs to the family of bacteria that causes tuberculosis and leprosy. However, M. ulcerans is an environmental bacterium and the mode of transmission to humans remains unknown. The organism produces a unique toxin – mycolactone – which causes tissue damage and inhibits the immune response.