The search begins for answers to beat Buruli in Victoria

Published on 19 February 2019

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With more than 380 notified cases of Buruli ulcer in Victoria last year, researchers involved in the Beating Buruli in Victoria project are now starting their intensive search for answers around the puzzling condition.

The Department of Health and Human Services has seen a rapid increase in notifications of Buruli ulcer over the last few years, with most cases linked to the Mornington Peninsula.

Although it's understood that the infection is picked up from the environment, and there is growing evidence to suggest mosquitoes play an important role, it's not yet known exactly how humans become infected with the bacteria, or where in the environment the bacteria prefer to live. It is not thought to be spread person-to-person.

The Department is working in collaboration with a range of researchers from the Doherty Institute, Barwon Health, Austin Health, CSIRO, Agriculture Victoria, the University of Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula Shire, to understand how this infection is spread and to identify effective ways to intervene to reduce infections.

The experts have been working over the past few weeks in the Mornington Peninsula Shire collecting soil samples, faecal samples from possums, laying mosquito traps and conducting field surveys of residential properties.

The research team are also on the hunt for local residents to take part in the case control study by filling out a questionnaire, looking at possible risk factors and understanding how people may become infected. You don’t need to have been diagnosed with Buruli ulcer to take part in this study.

Until more about how this disease is spread, it makes sense to protect yourself from possible sources of transmission by:

 

  • Avoiding insect bites by using suitable insect repellents and long clothing, especially during the warmer months.
  • Protecting cuts or abrasions with sticking plasters.
  • Promptly washing and covering any scratches or cuts received while working outdoors.
  • Seeing your doctor if you have a skin lesion and mention the possibility of Buruli ulcer.

Quotes attributable to Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton:

“This research project aims to better understand how Buruli ulcer is transmitted and determine effective ways to prevent and reduce infections.”

“Working with our partners, the project will identify interventions which we hope will actively disrupt disease transmission for the first time. This will lead to the development of evidence-based policies and practices that can help stop the spread of the disease.”

Quotes attributable to Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Councillor David Gill:

“We would encourage anyone in the Mornington Peninsula area who is interested in being involved in the project, either by completing the case control questionnaire, or by agreeing to host a mosquito trap at their property, to get in touch with the research team”.

For more information about the Beating Buruli in Victoria project or how to take part visit www2.health.vic.gov.au/beatingburuli