Effect of a control project on clinical profiles and outcomes in Buruli ulcer: a before/after study in Bas-Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo

DM Phanzu, P Suykerbuyk, DBB Imposo, PN Lukanu, JBM Minuku, LF Lehman, P Saunderson, BC de Jong, PT Lutumba, F Portaels, M Boelaert

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    BACKGROUND: Buruli ulcer (BU) is a necrotizing bacterial infection of skin, subcutaneous tissue and bone caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. Although the functional impairment caused by BU results in severe suffering and in socio-economic problems, the disease remains largely neglected in Africa. The province of Bas-Congo in Democratic Republic of Congo contains one of the most important BU foci of the country, i.e. the Songololo Territory in the District of Cataractes. This study aims to assess the impact of a BU control project launched in 2004 in the Songololo Territory. METHODS: We used a comparative non-randomized study design, comparing clinical profiles and outcomes of the group of patients admitted at the General Reference Hospital (GRH) of the 'Institut Medical Evangelique' (IME) of Kimpese 3 years before the start of the project (2002-2004) with those admitted during the 3 years after the start of the project (2005-2007). RESULTS: The BU control project was associated with a strong increase in the number of admitted BU cases at the GRH of IME/Kimpese and a fundamental change in the profile of those patients; more female patients presented with BU, the proportion of relapse cases amongst all admissions reduced, the proportion of early lesions and simple ulcerative forms increased, more patients healed without complications and the case fatality rate decreased substantially. The median duration since the onset of first symptoms however remained high, as well as the proportion of patients with osteomyelitis or limitations of joint movement, suggesting that the diagnostic delay remains substantial. CONCLUSION: Implementing a specialized program for BU may be effective in improving clinical profiles and outcomes in BU. Despite these encouraging results, our study highlights the need of considering new strategies to better improve BU control in a low resources setting.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1402
    JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Bacterial diseases
    • Buruli ulcer
    • Mycobacterium ulcerans
    • Control
    • Interventions
    • Projects
    • Treatment outcome
    • Clinical manifestations
    • Evaluation
    • Relapses
    • Lesions
    • Complications
    • Case fatality rates
    • Survival
    • Symptoms
    • Duration
    • Osteomyelitis
    • Diagnosis delay
    • Antibiotics
    • Surgery
    • Congo-Kinshasa
    • Africa-Central


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