Flesh-eating disease spreading through Australia with health alert issued

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A flesh-eating disease is feared to be spreading through Australia, with new infections reported.

New cases of Buruli ulcer have been identified in the Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Brunswick areas of Melbourne – the first identified in non-coastal parts of the country.

Chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton has since issued a health alert.

The infection is caused by a bacterium which leads to lesions on the skin.

The marks may appear like insect bites, and can grow into horrifying ulcers.

However, the risk of infection in the above areas is still low, the NCA Newswire reports.

The World Health Organisation states: “Although the causative organism of Buruli ulcer is an environmental bacterium, the mode of transmission to humans remains unknown.

“The organism produces a unique toxin – mycolactone – that causes the damage to the skin.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to minimising morbidity, costs and prevent long-term disability.”

Victoria's Department of Health issued a statement saying early diagnosis was critical to preventing skin and tissue loss.

The source of the infection has not yet been established, but the bacteria was isolated in the faeces of a local possum.

Research suggests mosquitoes may also play a role in transmission.

The disease cannot spread among humans, and there is not yet deviance that possums can spread it to people.

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