10 October 2017

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School’s in for GPs in search for ulcer cure DOCTORS will be encouraged to participate in a “learning module” to help them identify and diagnose Buruli ulcer in patients on the Mornington Peninsula. The module is being developed by experts from the Department of Health and Human Services and a public health laboratory in conjunction with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and infectious diseases experts. “Providing GPs with this knowledge will ensure early diagnosis can be made and the most effective antibiotic treatments provided to reduce the need for surgery and skin grafts if the condition develops,” department spokesman Tim C said. “Whole genome sequencing is also being conducted on samples from cases of Buruli ulcer at another … public health laboratory to better understand [its] spread into new regions. “The module will be available early next year and in place prior to the seasonal increase in cases seen each year, commencing around April.” Mr Vainoras said extra funding had been provided to AgriBio for further testing and analysis of mosquitoes to detect the presence of the bacteria responsible for causing Buruli ulcer. Experts are also analysing possum

faeces collected “from a number of locations” on the peninsula for the presence of the bacterium responsible for its spread. Mr Vainoras said said this was part of “significant work into Buruli ulcer already being undertaken” to combat incidences of the disease which is becoming increasingly prevalent. “This field work follows on from earlier efforts to establish what links there may be between possums and mosquitoes in the transmission of Buruli ulcer to humans,” he said. The department has been notified of 165 cases of the disease so far this year, compared to 110 for the same period in 2016. Nepean Liberal candidate Russell Joseph last week called on the state and federal governments to “drop the politics” and work with each other to eradicate the Buruli ulcer. Flinders MP and Health Minister Greg Hunt has previously agreed extra research was needed and the government would take a “sympathetic” look at any proposals. Mr Hunt’s office also told The News that $2.4 million had been allocated to research into the ulcer, but this was later revealed to be the aggregate of money spent since 2000. Stephen Taylor

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