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Simone Clark

PO Box 465, Rosebud VIC 3939

Phone (03) 5985 7776 (Rye clinic)



Administration Manager

Jane Hughes

PO Box 465, Rosebud VIC 3939

Phone (03) 5985 7776 (Rye clinic)


This email is for administration purposes only. Please do not send medical requests or appointment queries. Please call one of our clinics directly.

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Warning - contains graphic images.

Buruli Ulcers - What You Need To Know.....


What Is A Buruli or Bairnsdale Ulcer?

Buruli Ulcer

Buruli Ulcer is a disease that causes significant skin ulceration: it is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Ulcerans.  The bacteria that causes Buruli Ulcers is in the same class as those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy, it is a notifiable disease.

The toxins made by the bacteria destroy skin cells, small blood vessels and fat under the skin which causes ulceration and skin loss. The infection can occur on any area of the body but often on exposed areas such as hands, legs and arms.

It occurs all over the world and is currently highly active on the Mornington Peninsula and Bellarine Peninsula.

What Are The Causes?

Buruli Ulcer

While it is not known exactly how this disease is transmitted, to contract this infection the bacteria needs to get under your skin.

The bacteria has been isolated in mosquitos, soil and possum faeces.
Some theories include:
• Transmission from a mosquito bite.
• Through an open wound.
• Traumatic wounds whilst gardening.

It does not transmit from person to person.

How Does It Start?

Buruli Ulcer Treatment

• It can begin as a painless lump (nodule) then develop into an ulcer.
• A scab (covering an ulcer).
• Painful red area of swelling of the skin.

It can be itchy but most often it is painless and can take 1-9 months before a nodule or ulcer appears.

Generally, the human immune system does not recognise that it is there.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Buruli Ulcer Diagnosis

We see patients presenting at all stages of the disease.  The best results are with those with early diagnosis.

To diagnose a Buruli ulcer, a skin swab can be taken or alternatively a biopsy of the ulcer (under local anaesthetic).
We perform both of these minor procedures at our clinics.
It takes less than a week to receive the results.

Currently the test is not covered by Medicare, so involves a cost of $84.00 (payable to the pathology company).

What Is The Treatment?

Buruli Ulcer Treatment

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, a referral will be made to an Infectious Disease Specialist.

Treatment can include:

• A 6-8 week course of antibiotics (early detected ulcer); usually a combination of Rifampicin, Clarithromycin or Ciprofloxacin – the dosage and combination will vary between patients, and at times, be changed according to their effect.
(You will be given a list of side effects when prescribed).
• Regular blood tests and ECG (electrocardiogram), to check your response to the antibiotics.
• Regular wound dressings to monitor progress/changes and possible debridement of the wound. The ulcers are known to worsen before they get better once antibiotic treatment begins.

• Sometimes surgical treatment is also required for large non-healing ulcers

How Do You Prevent Them?

Protect yourself when outdoors or working in the garden:

• Use insect repellent (picaridin or DEET based)
• Cover up and protect existing cuts.
• Promptly wash and dress any scratches received after being outdoors.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts, shoes, pants and gardening gloves when gardening.

If You Have A Strange Lesion on Your Skin, Get It Checked...

EARLY detection improves outcome

If you have a slow-healing skin lesion/ulcer/ persistent lump or swelling, book an appointment immediately with any of the GPs or nurses at South Coast Medical.

There is an experienced medical team who have successfully treated this condition for many years consulting from South Coast Medical.

Blairgowrie: 2841 Point Nepean Road, Blairgowrie 5988 8604

Rye 2 Ozone Street, Rye 5985 7776

Capel Sound 1537 Point Nepean Road, Capel Sound 5986 2155

Dromana 1/251 Point Nepean Road, Dromana 5981 4300

South Coast Medical Webinar and Information Brochure

Dr Jon Priestley and the medical practitioners at South Coast Medical have been diagnosing and treating Buruli Ulcers for years.

Watch a community information event presented by Dr Jon Priestley (warning: contains graphic images) by clicking Buruli Ulcer Webinar

Download the South Coast Medical Buruli Ulcer Brochure here. Buruli Ulcer Information Brochure