Creating a healthier, better connected Gippsland.

Buruli ulcer bacteria identified in inner north Melbourne – Health advisory alert 4 May 2022

Status: Active

Date issued: 4 May 2022

Issued by: Associate Professor Deborah Friedman, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Diseases)

Issued to: Health professionals and visitors/residents in the Pascoe Vale South and Strathmore areas of inner-Melbourne.

Key messages

  • Buruli ulcer is a skin infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans (M. ulcerans).
  • Lesions typically present as a slowly developing painless nodule or papule which can initially be mistaken for an insect bite. They can progress over weeks to a destructive skin ulcer which is known as Buruli or Bairnsdale ulcer.
  • Several cases of Buruli ulcer have occurred in Pascoe Vale South and Strathmore, expanding the inner-Melbourne areas of interest which previously included Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Brunswick West.
  • A genetic analysis of bacteria isolated from these people as part of a research project suggests a common source of infection in the area.
  • The risk of acquiring Buruli ulcer in these areas is considered low. However, this represents an expansion of the non-coastal areas in Victoria to include two neighbouring suburbs which are now recognised as potential areas of risk.
  • 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.
  • Public health laboratory testing for Buruli ulcer is free for patients. A handling fee may be charged by private pathology companies.
  • Buruli ulcer must be notified to the Department within five days of diagnosis.
  • There is increasing evidence that mosquitoes play a role in transmission, so reducing mosquito breeding sites and avoiding mosquito bites are both important prevention measures.
  • Read the full advisory: Buruli ulcer bacteria identified in inner north Melbourne.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *