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Buruli ulcer: Mycobacterium ulcerans infection 

Buruli ulcer: Mycobacterium ulcerans infection
Buruli ulcer: Mycobacterium ulcerans infection

Bouke de Jong

, Françoise Portaels

, and Wayne M. Meyers

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date: 05 March 2021

Buruli ulcer is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, which secretes a cytotoxic and immunosuppressive toxin, mycolactone. The disease is characterized by necrosis of skin, subcutaneous tissue, and bone, and is re-emerging as a potentially disabling affliction of inhabitants of tropical wetlands. Major foci are in West and Central Africa with an increasing focus in Australia, Mexico, South America, and Southeast Asia. It is not contagious; environmental sources include water, vegetation, and insects, with humans probably becoming infected by traumatic introduction of the bacillus into the skin from the overlying M. ulcerans-contaminated surface in most instances. Clinical presentation may be as a cutaneous nodule, undermined ulcer, plaque, or widely disseminated oedematous lesion. Clinical diagnosis is often accurate by experienced clinicians, and smears for acid-fast bacilli, culture, polymerase chain reaction assays, and histopathology are confirmatory. Treatment was formerly by wide surgical excision and skin grafting, yet antibiotics have now been found effective, including an all-oral regimen.

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