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.
- 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.