Buruli ulcer

Buruli ulcer

©Abass Kabiru Mohammed.
A child in Agogo, Ghana cured with antibiotics.
Early detection avoids complications and disability.

Buruli ulcer is caused by a germ, Mycobacterium ulcerans, that mainly affects the skin but which can also affect the bone. Although the causative organism belongs to the same family of organisms that cause leprosy and tuberculosis, it is unique because it produces a toxin – mycolactone – which destroys tissue. Buruli ulcer has been reported in over 30 countries, but only half of these countries regularly report data to WHO. Most people affected are children under 15 years of age who live in poor rural communities. The introduction of a combination of antibiotics in 2004 has greatly improved treatment outcomes for those who report early; however, late diagnosis can result in long and costly hospitalizations with significant morbidity and disability.

fact buffet


~6000Between 5000–6000 cases are reported annually from 15 of the 33 countries

Fact sheet

Disability risk

25%late reporting results in high percentage of disability

Plastic Surgery International's article


80%of cases detected early can be cured with a combination of antibiotics.

American Society for Microbiology's article

Buruli in the news!

28 August 2014 | Geneva
Read 10 facts on Buruli ulcer

31 July 2014 | Geneva
Simple test promises early diagnosis of debilitating skin disease

10 July 2014 | Geneva
Clinical epidemiology of laboratory-confi rmed Buruli ulcer in Benin: a cohort
The Lancet , Vol 2 July 2014

20 June 2014 | Geneva
Management of BU–HIV co-infection
Tropical Medicine & International Health, DOI: 10.1111/tmi.12342

18 June 2014 | Geneva
Good data collection is essential for a better understanding of Buruli ulcer
The Lancet Global health, Vol 2, Issue 7

02 January 2014 | Geneva
Accelerated Detection of Mycolactone Production and Response to Antibiotic Treatment in a Mouse Model of Mycobacterium ulcerans Disease.
PloSntds DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002618

Laboratory confirmation
Guidance on sampling techniques for laboratory-confirmation of Mycobacterium ulcerans infection (Buruli ulcer disease)