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Buruli ulcer

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1402
  1. Mark Wansbrough-Jones, consultant physician (,
  2. Richard Phillips, Wellcome Trust research fellow
  1. St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE
  2. St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE

    A neglected but treatable disease that unnecessarily scars African children for life

    Buruli ulcer, caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans, is unfamiliar because it is common only among children in rural tropical areas, mainly in west Africa. Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, and Benin are among the worst affected.1 It is named Buruli after a county in Uganda. It is an easily treatable disease as common as tuberculosis in areas where it is endemic.w1In endemic areas in Ghana point prevalence has been estimated at 150-180/100 000 population, and in southern Benin, a detection rate of 20/100 000 per year has been reported.w2 w3Lack of treatment leaves children with large disfiguring scars and occasionally with joint deformities, loss of sight, loss of breast or scrotal tissue, and even amputations.

    Ulcers (figure) can reach a dramatic size, particularly in the oedematous form, which spreads rapidly over large parts of the limbs, trunk, or head. How infection is transmitted remains …

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