Melbourne: Health authorities warn residents of carnivorous ulcers

Health authorities have warned Australian residents of a mysterious carnivorous ulcer believed to come from possums.

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Health authorities have warned Melbourne residents of a mysterious carnivorous ulcer believed to be passing from possums to humans via a bloodsucking insect.

Buruli or Bairnsdale ulcers, which dissolve skin cells and fats, are infections caused by bacteria found in the feces of opossums.

Several cases of oozing, red and inflamed ulcers have been detected in Strathmore – located on the northern outskirts of the city – and Pascoe Vale South.

The infection was also previously found in Brunswick West, Essendon and Moonee Ponds.

Victoria Health has warned that Rye, Sorrento, Blairgowrie and Tootgarook are the areas of transmission with the highest risk.

Deborah Friedman, chief medical officer for communicable diseases, said that although the risk of infection is low, residents must remain vigilant.

Experts believe mosquitoes may be the missing link Research suggests that opossums cannot directly capture aggressive cavity from other opossums.

Nearly 40 percent of all ring-tailed possums in high-risk areas they carry bacteria.

The infection cannot be passed from person to person.

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

He said that over a period of weeks, the infection can increase in size and lead to a loss of skin mass.

The wound initially looks like a painless knot, which can be mistaken for a common bite.

“Early diagnosis is key to preventing skin and tissue loss.” she said.

It is believed that everyone can be susceptible to this infection, however Buruli ulcer detections are higher in people aged 60 and over.

Living under power lines and being frequently visited by local possums are two key risk factors.

Originally published as Health authorities warn Victoria residents of carnivorous ulcer outbreak transmitted by possums