Buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection): a re-emerging disease

DS Walsh, F Portaels, WM Meyers

    Research output: Contribution to journalA4: Article in journal not included in A1, A2 or A3peer-review


    Mycobacterium ulcerans infection is an emerging disease that causes indolent, necrotizing skin lesions known as Buruli ulcer (BU). Approximately 10% of patients develop reactive osteitis or osteomyelitis beneath skin lesions or metastatic osteomyelitis from lymphohematogenous spread of M. ulcerans. The most plausible mode of transmission is by skin trauma at sites contaminated by M. ulcerans. Pathogenesis is mediated by a necrotizing, immunosuppressive toxin produced by M. ulcerans called mycolactone. The incidence of BU is highest in children up to 15 years old and is a public health problem in countries of endemicity due to disabling scarring and bone destruction. Today, most BU occurs in West Africa, but the disease has been reported in over 30 countries. Treatment options for BU are antibiotics and surgery. BCG vaccination provides short-term protection against BU and prevents osteomyelitis. HIV seropositivity may increase the risk for BU and render BU osteomyeletis highly aggressive.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalClinical Microbiology Newsletter
    Issue number16
    Pages (from-to)119-127
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Bacterial diseases
    • Buruli ulcer
    • Mycobacterium ulcerans
    • Epidemiology
    • Incidence
    • Reemerging diseases
    • Pathogenesis
    • Clinical manifestations
    • Diagnosis
    • Treatment
    • Complications
    • BCG
    • Prevention


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