Research Funding To Unravel Buruli Ulcer Mysteries In Victoria

26 April 2018

Victorian researchers are working together to help control Buruli ulcer in Victoria assisted by funding from the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy announced a contribution of $250,000 to help bolster research in the transmission of the tropical skin condition Buruli ulcer in Victoria.

These researchers have also been successful in attracting a National Health and Medical Research Council partnership grant of $1.5 million.

The study will be performed by researchers from the University of Melbourne, Barwon Health, Mornington Peninsula Shire and public health experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, and will look into how the bacterial infection is transferred from the environment and into humans.

Buruli ulcer is a skin disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans. These bacteria are found naturally in the environment. It is not known how humans become infected, although it is thought that mosquitoes may have a role in transmitting the infection.

Buruli ulcer has been a notifiable condition in Victoria since 2004 and there’s been ongoing surveillance of the condition. But in recent years, there has been a steady increase in notifications in Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas.

Cases are diagnosed all year round, with a peak in diagnosis occurring between June and November each year. So far this year there have been 35 notifications of Buruli ulcer, compared with 39 cases to the same time last year. There were a total of 275 cases notified in 2017.

As well as the coastal regions of Victoria, Buruli ulcer is also present in tropical Queensland and like Victoria, considerable effort is underway to investigate how it gets from the environment and into humans.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Victorian researchers have been involved in and supported research and field work over the past few years in a search for answers around the puzzling aspects of this condition.”

“Victorian funded research into how Buruli ulcer is transmitted has been happening for more than a decade, including funding for a rapid diagnostic test which has enabled earlier identification and treatment.”

“We welcome the NHMRC partnership grant to help further explore the mysteries surrounding the transmission of this potentially serious infection from the environment into humans.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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