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Buruli Ulcer

After much discussion and research, we decided to target diseases that are not being funded and fully recognized in our western world. Buruli Ulcer is one such disease. This disease is caused by a bacterium found in contaminated water. It is found in Africa and Australia where there are polluted lakes and streams.

The symptoms show up as small to large red bumps on the skin that looks like open wounds. The sores destroy the nerve endings surrounding the area.

If caught early, surgical procedures, although expensive, can be effective. People often are left crippled or disfigured which leads to many victims being ostrasized by their communities.

To prevent Buruli Ulcer, education is important as well as finding remedies for clean water.

KFWH is looking for treatment possibilities in South America.

The disease is caused by a bacterium found in contaminated water. It is not known exactly how infection occurs. The disease is prevalent in areas of Africa and Australia where there are polluted lakes and streams.

Symptoms: The disease often appears initially as a small, red bump on the skin. In later stages, it is characterized by large areas of missing skin, that  appear as large, open wounds. Despite its gruesome appearance, the disease is painless because it destroys the nerves in the infected areas.

Diagnosis and Treatment: If caught in the early, initial stage, the treatment is a simple surgical procedure that is very effective. In later stages it requires long, extensive surgeries that could run to $10,000. Antibiotics have been used with mixed results. The condition was improved, but no eradicated. The victims are often left crippled or disfigured.  Early diagnostics and more refined antibiotic  treatments  are now being developed.

Prevention: A vaccine, if one could be developed, might be the most effective way to prevent the disease over the long term. Education for early detection could minimize the effect of the disease.  Also the teaching of self-care techniques could minimize disability.  These would include wound care and joint flexibility exercises.

Information compiled from publications and personnel of the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders. Specific sources available upon request.