Areas in northern Queensland and coastal Victoria (including the regions of Mornington Peninsula, East Gippsland, Phillip Island, and the Bellarine) have found themselves victims of a steady increase in nation-wide Buruli ulcer cases. A notifiable disease, in 2014 there were 89 reported cases of it; in 2017, 275.
A Buruli ulcer starts off as a non-healing sore that grows in size over time, potentially leading to severe disability and disfigurement if left untreated. It is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans and is a major health issue in many African countries. In Australia, it is suspected to be spread by mosquitos or possums. It is also difficult to treat due to unresponsiveness to some antibiotics.
The government announced in late April that it will be providing $1.5 million to fund medical research, on top of the $2.4 million already provided, to better understand the disease and limit its spread within Australia.
The funding helps support one of the first studies in the world on the disease, and any advancements will have positive impacts on public health in Australia’s regional and tropical areas and the affected African countries.
Further information (and images) here.