Responding to an alarming report in the Medical Journal of Australia published last week, the federal and Victorian government are putting a combined $3 million behind an effort to control the state’s rampant flesh-eating bug.
Reported cases of the bacteria in Victoria have gone up more than 400% in the past four years. – it is believed that there were 275 cases in 2017 and 30 so far this year.
The bacteria creates sores on arms or legs, resulting in what is known as a Buruli ulcer. If lesions are untreated or grow too large, plastic surgery can also be required – as was the case recently with an 11-year-old boy’s infected knee.
Today, the federal government announced that it would invest $1.5m into research, which was matched but the Victorian government & two local councils. Over the past decade, the two governments have spent more than $3m already on research.
Speaking to the ABC, the author of the Medical Journal article Daniel O’Brien called the Buruli ulcer a “serious epidemic“. Behind West and Central Africa, Victoria has become one of most prevalent places in the world for the bacteria.
As not enough is known about the virus, a two-year study has been set up with the funding. It will be led by University of Melbourne professor Tim Stinear. The study will use some of the funds to cull mosquitoes in coastal Victoria, having discovered they are vital in transmitting the bacteria to humans.
Currently, antibiotics can treat the ulcer, but are not subsidised by the PBS and can cost around $14,000.
Source: The Guardian
Image credit: University of Melbourne