Petitioning Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt MP

Fight Tropical Third-World Disease That's Rampant on Mornington Peninsula

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Mycobacterium Ulcerans is a third-world tropical disease, that just so happens to be running rampant on the Mornington Peninsula. I’m trying to persuade the state and federal governments to support research into it. Read on for more details.

Please support my cause and sign my petition. 

Ever heard of Mycobacterium Ulcerans?

Mycobacterium Ulcerans (Buruli or Bairnsdale Ulcer) is a third world tropical infection, that causes severe pain, inflammation and decomposition of tissue and fat. It’s found mostly in African countries such as Uganda, Nigeria and Liberia. So mostly poor countries with poorly developed health systems. It’s also found on the Mornington Peninsula. 

My name is Ella Crofts. I’m thirteen years old and I currently have Mycobacterium Ulcerans. 

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. We tested the tissue, with a dry-swab, for bacteria multiple times. Each time came back negative. My knee continued to worsen, despite several courses of antibiotics for simple infections. I eventually got a punch-biopsy in my knee, which came back positive for Mycobacterium Ulcerans. Since discovering this information, I visited several Infectious Diseases Specialists before coming to the under the care of one of the world experts. After meeting him, he recommended getting surgery, to clean out the dead tissue. I ended up getting two operations that week.

About a month later I had a third operation, again under general anaesthetic. I have had a couple of smaller surgeries under local anaesthetic since then. I’ve also had about three months of strong antibiotics, the sort that someone would use if they had tuberculosis. 

My point is, I’ve had six months of quality medical care and still have not recovered.

The Bairnsdale Ulcer releases a toxin called Mycolactone. This toxin decreases immune system function and results in tissue death. This infection comes from the same family as leprosy and tuberculosis. How the disease is spread is unknown. There is currently no prevention against it.

There have been over 150 cases of Mycobacterium Ulcerans in Victoria so far this year. Many of them are active, healthy kids like me, and most are on the Mornington Peninsula.

In the past two years, the number of cases in children (0-15 years old) has doubled.
In the 12 months to the 11th September, 2017, there have been 239 cases reported in Victoria.
In the last month there have been over 40 new cases reported. This compares to the 89 reported in the whole of 2014.
There has been a 300% increase in the number of cases in Victoria in the past five years. 

I’m asking you to sign my petition to get Federal and state government support for research into Mycobacterium Ulcerans. Why are the numbers in Victoria increasing so rapidly? Why is it moving? It used to be common on the Bellarine peninsula, now it’s mostly on the Mornington Peninsula. Why is a disease that’s found in tropical Africa, also found in temperate Victoria? We don’t even know how it’s spread. Answers to these questions would help prevent a worsening epidemic.

Thousands of people worldwide suffer from this infectious disease, most of them are in third-world countries. If we, a wealthy country, could research this disease we might save countless people from disfigurement and disability. 

Please sign my petition to research the Bairnsdale Ulcer! 

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