Mosquitoes implicated in flesh-eating disease in Victoria

September 26, 2017

Mosquitoes implicated in flesh-eating disease in Victoria

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«Flesh-eating» bacteria Mycobacterium ulcerans are said to be on the rise in Victoria and other tropical areas in Australia. Possums and Mosquitos are thought to be playing a part and contributing to the spread of this nasty infection. Covering up, using repellents and deterring mosquitos with Insect Control Systems are prudent measures to keeping safe.

Buruli ulcer, also known as Bairnsdale ulcer, occurs in many areas of the world, including Australia. The bacteria produces toxins which destroy skin cells, small blood vessels and the fat under the skin, which causes ulceration and skin loss. This infection comes from the same family as leprosy and tuberculosis. Untreated ulcers can result in significant disfigurement and disability, particularly in children.

The bacteria are found naturally in the environment — having been discovered in mosquitos, vegetation and possum faeces. Buruli ulcer is not believed to be transmitted person-to-person, and it is thought that «possum poo» and mosquitoes may have played a role in transmitting the infection to humans.

Cases in Victoria have been increasing in the last two years. Most recently a teenager from Mornington Peninsula, Australia has been infected. There have been 159 cases reported in Victoria alone this year, compared to 102 for the same period in 2016. Cases have also been reported in the Capricorn Coast of Queensland near Yeppoon, and north of Mossman.

What to look out for:
Better Health Channel, Victoria tell us to be on the lookout for:

  • A spot that looks like a mosquito or spider bite forms on the skin (usually 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 grow in size.
  • 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 localised pain, swelling and fever, raised lumps, or thickened or raised flat areas of skin.

With early diagnosis and prompt treatment, skin loss and damage can be minimised. The usual treatment is a course of oral antibiotics.
For more advanced cases, surgery is sometimes required.

Keep limbs covered when out and about. Use insect repellent when outdoors. Wear gloves when gardening. Wash and cover any scratches or cuts received while working or playing outdoors.

Deter mosquitos entering your home or work enviroment with an automatic insect control system.