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Buruli ulcer in Australia - Melbourne

06 May 2022

The Victoria Department of Health reports Buruli ulcer disease is spreading in the Australian city of Melbourne. The disease has occurred in north Melbourne and coastal areas of the State of Victoria in previous years. According to media, there have been 39 cases in Victoria this year, as of 4 May 2022.

Areas of highest risk are Rye, Sorrento, Blairgowrie and Tootgarook on the Mornington Peninsula. Also affected are Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff), Frankston and Seaford on the Bellarine Peninsula. There is lower risk in other parts of the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, as well as in the South Eastern Bayside suburbs and East Gippsland.

Buruli ulcer is a bacterial infection that begins as a raised, painless spot and develops into a deep ulcer over several weeks. Contaminated water and insect bites are possible routes of transmission. The infection is not transmitted between people. There is no vaccine although the infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Advice to travellers

If you are travelling to Melbourne, you should be aware of the risk of Buruli ulcer disease. Any new skin problems that do not heal quickly should be seen by a healthcare professional.

The exact way that this infection is caught is not known. The following measures are advised to reduce your risk of infection:

  • Avoid insect bites, and wear longer clothing to cover exposed skin when you are outdoors
  • Wash any soil or water off your skin promptly after outdoor activities
  • Make sure all cuts and grazes are cleaned and treated quickly. Cover cuts and grazes with plasters if working outside, especially if working near still pools of water
  • Wear gloves and longer clothing if gardening or working outside

For further information see insect bite avoidance.