What is Buruli Ulcer?
Buruli ulcer (BU) is a skin disease caused by the flesh-eating bacteria Mycobacterium ulcerans (MU), which belong to the same family of organisms that cause leprosy and tuberculosis.
Signs and Symptoms
The disease often begins as a painless nodule under the skin. It then progresses without pain or fever into lesions (ulcers) on the skin, sometimes affecting the adjacent bone. If treated early, it can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, however, the disease can be quite debilitating. For example, Buruli ulcer can result in secondary infection, extensive lesions, deformities, and, while uncommon, even death. Early detection and treatment are thus crucial.
• Buruli ulcer has been reported in over thirty countries with tropical and subtropical climates. In Ghana, more than 11,000 cases have been recorded since 1993, with over 40,000 cases across West Africa.
• The disease typically affects people in poor, rural communities in which children are most vulnerable.
• Location of lesions are usually on the limbs, because these areas are most exposed to the environments in which the bacteria thrives.
• The mode of transmission (how people get the disease) remains unknown. One common characteristic of Buruli ulcer worldwide, however, is its association with aquatic areas. In Ghana, high incidence of Buruli ulcer corresponds with areas prone to flooding and stagnant water.