Flesh-eating ulcer spreads to new Melbourne suburbs as warning is issued to doctors and residents

A flesh-eating ulcer outbreak has spread to new regions of Melbourne – the first time a non-coastal area in the state has been impacted.

Buruli ulcer had, until now, been contained to coastal regions in Melbourne’s south-west and south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula.

But on Tuesday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said new detections had been found in Melbourne’s inner north.

Cases were detected in Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Brunswick West, he said.

“This is the first non-coastal area in Victoria to be recognised as a potential area of risk, however, the risk of transmission in these areas is considered low,” Sutton said in a statement.

“All the identified cases had also travelled to known risk areas for buruli ulcer but genetic analysis of M. ulcerans isolated from them strongly supports a common link.

“The potential source of M. ulcerans in Melbourne’s inner north has not been established, although the bacteria were isolated from the faeces of a local possum.”

The once rare and exotic Buruli ulcer is an infectious disease that can cause gruesome, painful open wounds as bacteria chews through skin and tissue.

Anyone travelling to transmission areas is urged to avoid insect bites, protect cuts and to see a doctor if they have any persistent skin lesions.

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