Baffling bacteria sparks health scare
Source: AAP|Published: Wednesday August 8, 1:27 PM
A bacteria which has medical experts baffled has caused an outbreak of skin infections in Victoria, prompting a warning today from health authorities.
Health officials will alert more than 1000 residents in a seaside town about an outbreak of a chronic skin ulcer that often requires sufferers to undergo extensive skin grafts.
The health department also issued a general warning to the Victorian public, particularly people who may have visited coastal regions.
Five people aged from under five to 79 have been diagnosed with Bairnsdale Ulcer in St Leonards, on the Bellarine Peninsula, west of Melbourne, in the past week.
The ulcer, also known as Mycobacterium ulcerans, starts as a pimple and slowly destroys the underlying tissue cells.
If caught early, it can be surgically removed and treated with drugs, but more severe cases require extensive skin grafts.
Doctors do not know how the bacteria is transmitted from the environment to humans, but it is not contagious.