What is Buruli ulcer disease?

What is Buruli ulcer disease?

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What is Buruli ulcer disease?

Buruli (also known as Bairnsdale) an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, is one of the most neglected tropical diseases. It is the third mycobacteriosis in prevalence, after leprosy and tuberculosis.

M.Ulcerans is capable of producing mycolactone, an immunomodulatory macrolide toxin that causes tissue necrosis and destroys the skin and soft tissues with the formation of large ulcers, often in the arms or legs.

Symptoms of Buruli ulcer

The progression of symptoms can include: A spot that looks like a mosquito or spider bite forms on the skin (most commonly on the limbs). The spot grows bigger over days or weeks. The spot may form a crusty, non-healing scab. The scab then disintegrates into an ulcer.

The ulcer continues to enlarge. Unlike other ulcers, this ulcer is usually painless and there is generally no fever or other signs of infection. The infection may sometimes present with no ulceration but with localized pain, swelling and fever, raised lumps, or thickened or raised flat areas of skin.

Treatment for Buruli ulcer

Most Buruli ulcers can be treated with a course of specific oral antibiotics. Surgery is sometimes used in combination with antibiotic therapy. If surgery is required, a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue is also cut out to make sure the infection is completely removed. Depending on the extent of surgery, skin grafts may be needed to close the wound.

Sometimes the ulcer can return after surgery, requiring another course of antibiotics or an operation (or both). As the ulcer gets bigger with time, early diagnosis and prompt treatment can minimize skin loss.


Prevention of Buruli ulcer

Although the exact cause of infection in humans is not known, it makes sense to protect yourself from potential sources of infection such as soil and insect bites.

Suggestions to reduce the risk of infection include:

Wear gardening gloves, long-sleeved shirts and trousers when working outdoors. Avoid insect bites by using suitable insect repellents. Protect cuts or abrasions with sticking plasters. Promptly wash and cover any scratches or cuts you receive while working outdoors. See your doctor if you have a slow-healing skin lesion. It is important to remember that the risk of infection is low, even in those areas where the infection is endemic (constantly present in the community).


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