Speaker: Dr Christina McCowan (University of Melbourne) “Mycobacterium ulcerans (Buruli ulcer) in our native mammals in the wild”

Mycobacterium ulcerans is a bacterium causing ulcerative skin disease (Buruli ulcer) in humans and animals, mainly in tropical regions, particularly in West Africa. However, the organism was first isolated and described in Gippsland, Victoria, and became known here as Bairnsdale ulcer. Clinical disease continues to occur in some coastal regions as far west as Barwon Heads. Although several domestic species have been diagnosed with infections, marsupials may be particularly susceptible and DNA of the organism has been found in the faeces of possums, particularly Ringtail Possums, from affected regions. What this means for the epidemiology of the disease is unclear, as are some factors in the pattern of outbreaks and their limited distribution. In this talk, Christina will explain the work that is ongoing to clarify the features of the disease and the role of wild mammals in its spread.