Buruli ulcer in Australia

17 May 2022

Article: 56/1905

The Victoria Department of Health has reported the spread of Buruli ulcer in the city of Melbourne, with media reporting 39 cases through the state, as of 4 May 2022. The disease has occurred in north Melbourne and coastal areas of the State of Victoria in previous years.

Buruli ulcer occurs due to a bacterial infection, beginning as a raised, painless spot and developing into a deep ulcer over a period of weeks, with contaminated water and insect bites being possible routes of transmission. Buruli ulcer is not transmitted between people, and there is no vaccine, however the infection can be treated with antibiotics. 

Advice for travellers 

Longer term travellers to endemic regions, including Melbourne, should be advised of the risk of Buruli ulcer disease. They should be encouraged to have any new skin lesions medically assessed, ensuring they mention their travel history if back in the UK. 

The precise mode of transmission is unknown, but travellers should be advised to:

  • avoid insect bites
  • ensure wounds are treated quickly and appropriately, and covered by dressings when working outside, especially with stagnant water bodies
  • wear protective clothing during water contact and when working outside 

Health professionals can access further information on Buruli ulcer on the TRAVAX website

Sources: TRAVAX, 6 May 2022 and fitfortravel, 6 May 2022