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Health authorities warn Victoria residents of outbreak of flesh-eating ulcer transmitted by opossums

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Health officials have warned Melbourne residents about a mysterious flesh-eating ulcer that is thought to be transmitted from possums to humans through blood-sucking insects.

Burula or Burnsdale ulcers, which melt skin cells and fats, are infections caused by bacteria found in opossum feces.

Numerous cases of leaking, red, and inflamed ulcers have been reported in Strathmore, located in the northern suburbs of the city, and Southern Pasco Vail.

The infection has also previously been detected in Brunswick West, Essendon and Mooney Punds.

Camera iconSeveral cases of infection have been found throughout downtown Melbourne. Mark Wilson Credit: News Corp Australia

Victoria Health has warned that Paradise, Sorrento, Blergauri and Tutgaruk are the most risky areas of transmission.

Deborah Friedman, chief health physician for infectious diseases, said that although the risk of infection is low, residents should remain vigilant.

Experts believe that the lack of links may be mosquitoes research suggests that opossums cannot directly catch an aggressive cavity from other opossums.

Nearly 40 percent of all ringed opossums in high-risk areas carry bacteria.

The infection cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Damage usually manifests itself in the form of slowly developing painless nodules or papules, which can first be mistaken for an insect bite.  Image: included
Camera iconDamage usually manifests itself in the form of slowly developing painless nodules. Supplied Credit: NCA NewsWire

Reducing mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites are important prevention measures, Ms. Friedman said.

She said that within a few weeks the infection could increase in size and lead to massive skin loss.

Initially, the wound is a painless knot that can be mistaken for a normal bite.

Ulcers of Burula or Burnsdale are transmitted from the opossum to humans through mosquitoes.  Supplied
Camera iconUlcers of Burula or Burnsdale are transmitted from the opossum to humans through mosquitoes. Supplied Credit: Advertiser Geelong

“Early diagnosis is crucial to prevent skin and tissue loss.” she said.

It is believed that everyone may be susceptible to this infection, however the most common retention of Buruli ulcers occurs in people aged 60 years and older.

Living under power lines and frequent visits to local opossums are two key risk factors.

https://thewest.com.au/news/health-authorities-warn-victorian-residents-of-flesh-eating-ulcer-outbreak-passed-on-from-possums-c-6689511

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