Flesh-eating bacteria puzzles Australian health authorities

A spike in Australians being attacked by flesh - eating bacteria has left health authorities puzzled and concerned .
The Victorian Health Department said on Thursday that cases of mycobacterium ulcerans, which caused flesh - eating ulcers known as Buruli ulcers , had already increased 50 per cent since in 2016 .
A health department spokesman said that the state had already seen 159 cases this year, compared to 102 cases in 2016 .
“ It is an increase , but for reasons we fully don ’ t know why . It ’ s a medical conundrum , ” he told the Australian Associated Press .
He said experts from a public health laboratory were investigating the bacteria .
“ The infection starts as an insect bite, causing swelling and grows into large lesions requiring major surgery . The bacteria is usually found in tropical countries. ”
Meanwhile , Australian teen , Ella Crofts , has started a petition calling on the government to fund research about the bacteria .
“ I started feeling pain in my knee in early April. Slowly it got worse , with my knee becoming swollen and inflamed, until one day , the skin started breaking down , ” Ella said in a change. org petition.
Crofts required three operations to repair the damage .
“ Why are the numbers in Victoria increasing so rapidly?” Croft asks in the petition that has already garnered more than 9 , 000 signatures.
Geelong Hospital’ s deputy director of infectious diseases , Daniel O ’ Brien , called it an “ epidemic ”.
“ It is getting more severe. We see now twice as many severe cases as we saw five years ago . And the biggest concern is we don ’ t know how to prevent it, ” he told local Fairfax media on Thursday.
(dpa / NAN)