The New Disease Taking Over Melbourne
A fast-growing outbreak of mycobacterium ulcerans (otherwise known as Buruli ulcer) is sweeping the Mornington Peninsula.
The mysterious flesh-eating ulcer, which is confined to the developing world, has the health department puzzled and deeply concerned.
The number of Victorians who have been diagnosed with Buruli ulcers has almost tripled in the past three years and doctors believe it will continue to rise.
Geelong Hospital deputy director of infectious diseases, Associate Professor Daniel O'Brien told The Age 'we don't know where it might appear next".
"It's getting more severe. We see now twice as many severe cases as we saw five years ago. And the biggest concern is we don't know how to prevent it," he said
.Associate Professor O'Brien said the government had committed almost no funding to investigate the "epidemic".
"There is a complete knowledge vacuum. The only way to address it is to do some very thorough, basic scientific research. It needs to be done urgently and immediately, and it needs to be funded, and nobody is at this stage," he said.
There have already been 159 recorded cases this year, up from 58 for the same time period in 2015.