What We Know About the Recent Flesh-Eating Ulcer Epidemic in Australia

Buruli ulcer

In recent times, Australia has been hit by an epidemic of a strange type of bacteria which eats away at human flesh. Scientists can’t really understand its origins or the way it spreads. That’s some really shocking news, but let’s try to break down all the facts concerning the Buruli ulcer.

What’s Buruli Ulcer?

Buruli ulcer, also sometimes referred to as a Bairnsdale ulcer, is a type of disease that affects your skin. It is triggered by a bacterium medically referred to as Mycobacterium ulcerans. This bacterium produces certain types of toxins which are very efficient in destroying the skin cells, the fat under the skin, and small blood vessels. As a direct result, a person affected by this medical condition will experience ulceration, and even skin loss.

The World Health Organization claims that the Buruli ulcer comes from the same family of bacteria that are known for causing leprosy and tuberculosis.

This bacterium can be found in the natural environment, mostly in some mosquito species, so it is presumed that that’s the way humans became infected in the first place. In theory, it is not transmitted from person to person.

Other than Australia, the affected areas now include more than 30 countries in Latin America, West and Central Africa, and some tropical regions of Asia.


The symptoms of Buruli ulcer commonly include swollen skin, completely destroyed skin and underlying tissue, and slow growing, painless ulcers.


If you suspect you’re affected by this medical condition, visit a doctor immediately. Buruli ulcer needs to be treated with extremely potent antibiotics.

If left untreated, Buruli ulcer can lead to the development of several severe medical conditions, such as bone infections, limited joint movement, functional disability, deformities, and secondary bacterial infections.


Buruli ulcer is one of the most dangerous bacterial infections known to man. If left untreated it can lead to severe complications and sometimes even amputation.