Don’t Panic, But There’s A Mystery Flesh-Eating Ulcer Epidemic In Victoria

Despite the fact Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, I for one would be re-considering living anywhere within the state of Victoria at all, what with the constant news stories about THING’S EATING PEOPLE’S FLESH down there.

Only a month after some dude’s legs got gnawed to shit by flesh-eating sea-bugs, comes news that the Mornington Peninsula, just south of Melbourne, is suffering from a mysterious epidemic of a gnarly virus usually only found in Central and West Africa.

And yep, it eats ya bloody flesh, but this time from the fuckin’ inside-out.

Mycobacterium ulcerans (or Buruli ulcers) start of as painless swellings which appear much like a small insect bite, but slowly develop into large pus-filled lesions which can expand to the point of requiring surgery.

A photo of a Mornington Peninsula girl Ella Croft’s infected knee.

Reported cases of Buruli ulcers in Mornington Peninsula and neighbouring Bellarine Peninsula have mysteriously tripled in the past three years, baffling local infectious disease experts, who have failed to discover why the disease, usually confined to countries such as Uganda and Nigeria.

13-year-old Ella Crofts, who was diagnosed with Buruli ulcers earlier this year, describes the onset of her symptoms:

I started feeling pain in my knee in early April. Slowly, it got worse as my knee became swollen and inflamed until one day the skin started breaking down and I started to see an open wound that just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Ella, who is still suffering with the illness despite six-months of care and three operations, has started a petition to get the attention of Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt in the hopes of increasing funding to combat the outbreak.

A Buruli ulcer.

With 158 cases already this year (a 58% increase on 2016), Victorians who live in or near the area are being advised to pay particular attention to insect bites and ensure to disinfect and cover cuts and abrasions.

Speaking to The Age, Geelong Hospital deputy director of infectious diseases Daniel O’Brien sums it up in appropriately horrifying manner:

It’s getting more severe. We see now twice as many severe cases as we saw five years ago. And the biggest concern is we don’t know how to prevent it [and] we don’t know where it might appear next.