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Int J Mycobacteriol. 2019 Jan-Mar;8(1):48-52. doi: 10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_168_18.

Survey of local fauna from endemic areas of Northern Queensland, Australia for the presence of Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Author information

1
Cairns Clinical School, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia.
2
College of Public Health, Medical and Vet Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
3
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Smithfield, QLD, Australia.

Abstract

Background:

Buruli ulcer (BU), regionally known as the Daintree ulcer or Bairnsdale ulcer is caused by the environmental pathogen Mycobacterium ulcerans (MU). This disease is characterized by extensive and painless necrosis of skin and soft tissue with the formation of large ulcers and has been reported in >33 countries worldwide. This organism is geographically restricted and in Australia, the disease has been reported primarily in coastal Victoria and the Mossman-Daintree areas of northern Queensland. Australia is the only country where nonhuman cases of BU have been confirmed. The common ringtail possums and mountain brushtail possums have been suggested as potential animal reservoirs of MU in coastal Victoria, Australia. The exact mode of transmission of this disease remains unknown.

Methods:

In this study, we surveyed local fauna from endemic areas of northern Queensland, Australia, for the presence of MU in scat samples. We collected 140 bandicoot, four white-tailed rats, and two possum scat samples from 56 overnight trapping sessions. Samples were examined for the presence of MU DNA by the polymerase chain reaction.

Results:

Two out of five samples did not contain a sufficient amount of DNA to detect IS2606 and the ketoreductase B (KR) domain of the mycolactone polyketide synthase gene, which is represented by higher cycle threshold (Ct) values for IS2404 shown in table below. Despite of having desired Ct values for IS2404, one IS2404 positive sample possibly contained DNA of closely related M. ulcerans subspecies with lower copy number of IS2606 that do not commonly cause disease in human. All three targets: IS2404, IS2606 and KR were detected from the remaining two scat samples.

Conclusion:

We confirm the presence of M. ulcerans DNA in the scat samples collected from a Buruli ulcer endemic region of Northern Queensland, Australia.

KEYWORDS:

Australia; Mycobacterium ulcerans; native mammals; northern Queensland

PMID:
30860179
DOI:
10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_168_18
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