26 February 2019

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Ground Zero in Buruli fight Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au ALL stops are out in the war against Buruli ulcer – especially on the Mornington Peninsula. Researchers from the Department of Health and Human Services are collecting soil and faecal samples from possums, have laid mosquito traps and conducted field surveys of properties as part of the Beating Buruli in Victoria project. On a second “front”, peninsula residents are being encouraged to get involved in a case-control study by filling out a questionnaire, looking at possible risk factors and understanding how people may become infected. They don’t need to be diagnosed with Buruli ulcer to be included. “We would encourage anyone in the peninsula area who is interested in being involved in the project, either by completing the case control questionnaire, or by agreeing to host a mosquito trap at their property, to get in touch with the research team,” Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill said. About 380 cases of Buruli ulcer were reported in Victoria last year, with researchers searching for answers to questions around the puzzling condition. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bram Alexander said there had been a rapid increase in notifications of Buruli ulcer over the past few years with “most cases linked to the Mornington Peninsula”. “Although it’s understood that the infection is picked up from the environment, and there is growing evidence to suggest mosquitoes play an important role, it's not yet known exactly how humans become infected with the bacteria or where in the environment the bacteria prefer to live. It is not thought to be spread person-toperson,” he said. The shire and the department are working with researchers from the Doherty Institute, Barwon Health, Austin Health, CSIRO, Agriculture Vic-

Front line: Agriculture Victoria researcher Peter Mee works in the shadows to collect samples from hot spots that may lead to a Buruli cure. Picture: Supplied

toria, and University of Melbourne in an effort to understand how the infection is spread and to identify effective ways of intervening to reduce infections. Residents are urged to minimise insect bites by using repellents and wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts, especially during summer months, protecting cuts and abrasions with sticking plasters, and promptly washing and covering any scratches or cuts from working outdoors. If they see a doctor about a skin lesion they should mention the possibility of Buruli ulcer.

“This research project aims to better understand how Buruli ulcer is transmitted and determine effective ways to prevent and reduce infections,” Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton said. “The project will identify interventions which we hope will actively disrupt disease transmission for the first time. This will lead to the development of evidence-based policies and practices that can help stop the spread of the disease.” Details: 2.health.vic.gov.au/beatingburuli

Soprano off to market SOMERVILLE soprano Harmony Lee, right, will perform at the 21st anniversary Opera in the Market in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market on 4 March. The 19-year-old singer, who graduated from secondary school in 2017, has made a name for herself this summer with her performance – with fellow Opera Scholars Australia students – of the appeal to Saint Seraphina from Malcolm Williamson’s Our man in Havana ahead of Beechworth’s Opera in the Alps. For the past six years Lee has paid for her singing lessons by busking with her voice and violin. She is now rehearsing with her 21 fellow scholars for Opera in the Market, in which she will share in the performance of Aaron Copland’s hymn to farming from his 1954 opera The Tender Land, led by tenor Thomas Harvey, and other chorus pieces. The scholars will share the stage for one night in the Market’s K Shed with Opera Australia leading soprano Taryn Fiebig, mezzo soprano Milijana Nikolic, tenor Rosario La Spina and bass baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Opera in the Market will be accompanied by Symphony Australis, a 45-piece orchestra directed and by conducted by ABC Classic FM compere Guy Noble and supported by a 70-voice chorus performing works from Carmen and La Traviata. Proceeds from Opera in the Market ticket sales will benefit the OSA program, to which donations are tax-deductible. Tickets, from $69 at operainthemarket.com.au Picture: Marc Bongers

Western Port News

27 February 2019