A flesh-eating ulcer that can result in limb amputations has made its way to Melbourne's southeast suburbs, The Age reports.

The Buruli ulcer has hit record levels in Victoria with 45 cases reported this year. The disease has recently spread to inner Melbourne suburbs such as Bentleigh, Hampton and Cheltenham.

It's believed the ulcer, also known as the Bairnsdale ulcer, can be contracted by contact with bodies of water, mosquitoes and even possums. However the exact mode of transmission remains unknown to researchers.

The disease eats at the skin and capillaries and can lead to gangrene if left untreated, resulting in amputation in extreme cases. It most commonly affects exposed skin areas such as arms and legs.


It was first recorded in Bairnsdale, Victoria in the 1930s, but has more recently been detected in the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas.

Austin Hospital's Professor Paul Johnson told The Age the number of cases was "rapidly increasing. You've got this tropical disease in coastal temperate Melbourne."

When identified early, the ulcer can be successfully treated with antibiotics and will appear as a small pimple once the incubation period is over.

Victoria is the only non-tropical locale that has recorded cases of the Buruli ulcer.