Introduction of Mycobacterium ulcerans disease in the Bankim Health District of Cameroon follows damming of the Mape River

Koen Vandelannoote, Gerd Pluschke, Miriam Bolz, Martin W. Bratschi, Sarah Kerber, Timothy P. Stinear, Bouke C. de Jong

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Buruli ulcer (BU) is an emerging ulcerative skin disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans. Efforts to control its spread have been hampered by our limited understanding of M. ulcerans reservoirs and transmission, and the factors leading to the emergence of BU disease in a particular region. In this report we investigate an anecdotal link between damming the Mapé River in Cameroon and the emergence of BU in the Health Districts bordering Lake Bankim, the impoundment created by the Mapé dam. We used bacterial population genomics and molecular dating to find compelling support for a 2000 M. ulcerans introduction event that followed about 10 years after the filling of the newly created impoundment in 1988. We compared the genomic reconstructions with high-resolution satellite imagery to investigate what major environmental alterations might have driven the emergence of the new focus.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0008501
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number9
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020



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