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The Convergence of High-Consequence Livestock and Human Pathogen Research and Development: A Paradox of Zoonotic Disease

Potential Animal Reservoir of Mycobacterium ulcerans: A Systematic Review

Cairns Clinical School, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns City, QLD 4870, Australia
College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, James Cook University, Smithfield, QLD 4878, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2018, 3(2), 56;
Received: 11 April 2018 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 24 May 2018 / Published: 30 May 2018
Mycobacterium ulcerans is the causative agent of Buruli ulcer, also known in Australia as Daintree ulcer or Bairnsdale ulcer. This destructive skin disease is characterized by extensive and painless necrosis of the skin and soft tissue with the formation of large ulcers, commonly on the leg or arm. To date, 33 countries with tropical, subtropical and temperate climates in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Western Pacific have reported cases of Buruli ulcer. The disease is rarely fatal, although it may lead to permanent disability and/or disfigurement if not treated appropriately or in time. It is the third most common mycobacterial infection in the world after tuberculosis and leprosy. The precise mode of transmission of M. ulcerans is yet to be elucidated. Nevertheless, it is possible that the mode of transmission varies with different geographical areas and epidemiological settings. The knowledge about the possible routes of transmission and potential animal reservoirs of M. ulcerans is poorly understood and still remains patchy. Infectious diseases arise from the interaction of agent, host and environment. The majority of emerging or remerging infectious disease in human populations is spread by animals: either wildlife, livestock or pets. Animals may act as hosts or reservoirs and subsequently spread the organism to the environment or directly to the human population. The reservoirs may or may not be the direct source of infection for the hosts; however, they play a major role in maintenance of the organism in the environment, and in the mode of transmission. This remains valid for M. ulcerans. Possums have been suggested as one of the reservoir of M. ulcerans in south-eastern Australia, where possums ingest M. ulcerans from the environment, amplify them and shed the organism through their faeces. We conducted a systematic review with selected key words on PubMed and INFORMIT databases to aggregate available published data on animal reservoirs of M. ulcerans around the world. After certain inclusion and exclusion criteria were implemented, a total of 17 studies was included in the review. A variety of animals around the world e.g., rodents, shrews, possums (ringtail and brushtail), horses, dogs, alpacas, koalas and Indian flap-shelled turtles have been recorded as being infected with M. ulcerans. The majority of studies included in this review identified animal reservoirs as predisposing to the emergence and reemergence of M. ulcerans infection. Taken together, from the selected studies in this systematic review, it is clear that exotic wildlife and native mammals play a significant role as reservoirs for M. ulcerans. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mycobacterium ulcerans; animal reservoir; transmission Mycobacterium ulcerans; animal reservoir; transmission
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MDPI and ACS Style

Singh, A.; McBride, W.J.H.; Govan, B.; Pearson, M. Potential Animal Reservoir of Mycobacterium ulcerans: A Systematic Review. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2018, 3, 56.

AMA Style

Singh A, McBride WJH, Govan B, Pearson M. Potential Animal Reservoir of Mycobacterium ulcerans: A Systematic Review. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2018; 3(2):56.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Singh, Avishek, William J.H. McBride, Brenda Govan, and Mark Pearson. 2018. "Potential Animal Reservoir of Mycobacterium ulcerans: A Systematic Review" Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease 3, no. 2: 56.

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