An infectious disease which causes severe lesions and deformities on the human skin is sweeping Australia.
Scientists say they are worried about – and unable to explain – the spread of the Buruli ulcer, the so-called “flesh-eating disease” that usually occurs in West and central Africa.
The outbreak, which is particularly rampant in the state of Victoria, has become an “epidemic,” requiring an “urgent scientific response,” researchers Daniel O’Brien, Eugene Athan, Kim Blasdell and Paul De Barrowrote in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
“It causes severe destructive lesions of skin and soft tissue, resulting in significant morbidity, in attributable mortality and often in long term disability and cosmetic deformity,” their report states.
“All age groups, including young children, are affected, and the emotional and psychological impact on patients and their carers is substantial.”
In one case, a severe lesion on the knee of an 11-year-old boy required plastic surgery and prolonged dressings over six months during which he missed much of his schooling.
According to the report, there were 182 new cases reported in 2016, a spike of 72 percent.
There was a further increase of 51 percent from November 2016 to November 2017 to the same month a year later.
How the disease develops and spreads between humans remains a mystery, but some transmissions have been linked to mosquitoes and possums, Andres Garchitorena, a researcher at the Institute of Research and Development in France, told CNN.
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