Buruli ulcer is an infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium ulcerans, from the same family of bacteria which causes tuberculosis and leprosy.
The infection causes painless swelling, with lesions developing in the skin later on. Further progression of this bacteria produces toxins that suppress the immune system and destroy skin, underlying tissue and bone, causing severe deformities. This is more common in the limbs.
Being one of the less known diseases caused by mycobacteria, means of infection are not completely clear and there is no effective treatment against it, as antibiotics have proven uneffective. The usual applied therapy is the surgical removal of the affected tissue, which entails permanent tissue loss. This practice is dangerous and scarcely available in affected third world countries.
Buruli ulcer is steadily rising as a serious disease, specially in West Africa and underdeveloped countries, where it is the third leading cause of mycobacterial infection in healthy people, after tuberculosis and leprosy. Its name is derived from an area of Uganda which was the site of many cases in the 1960s.
World Health Organization buruli ulcer page (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs199/en/)
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