A major role for mammals in the ecology of Mycobacterium ulcerans

Janet AM Fyfe, Caroline J Lavender, Katherine A Handasyde, Alistair R Legione, Carolyn R O'Brien, Timothy P Stinear, Sacha J Pidot, Torsten Seemann, Mark Eric Benbow, John R Wallace, Christina McCowan, Paul Donald Russell Johnson

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151 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Mycobacterium ulcerans is the causative agent of Buruli ulcer (BU), a destructive skin disease found predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa and south-eastern Australia. The precise mode(s) of transmission and environmental reservoir(s) remain unknown, but several studies have explored the role of aquatic invertebrate species. The purpose of this study was to investigate the environmental distribution of M. ulcerans in south-eastern Australia. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A range of environmental samples was collected from Point Lonsdale (a small coastal town southwest of Melbourne, Australia, endemic for BU) and from areas with fewer or no reported incident cases of BU. Mycobacterium ulcerans DNA was detected at low levels by real-time PCR in soil, sediment, water residue, aquatic plant biofilm and terrestrial vegetation collected in Point Lonsdale. Higher levels of M. ulcerans DNA were detected in the faeces of common ringtail (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) and common brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula) possums. Systematic testing of possum faeces revealed that M. ulcerans DNA could ....
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 12
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number8 (e791)
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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