Skip Navigation
Global Health Snapshot - Neglected Tropical Diseases

Global Health Snapshot: Neglected Tropical Diseases

Buruli Ulcer

Buruli UlcerA severe skin disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Symptoms: Toxin mycolactone, produced by M. ulcerans, causes large, deep ulcers that can attack muscles and bones. Untreated, it can cause permanent disability.

Treatment: Antibiotics streptomycin and rifampicin; surgery for advanced cases

Prevention: Researchers are working to understand how infection is transmitted and to develop a vaccine.

Location: Mainly in West Africa, including Ivory Coast, Ghana and Benin

Prevalence: Very little accurate information; disease has been reported in 33 countries.

Trending: No clear trend; increase in cases in West Africa in past decade

Fact: Method of transmission is unclear, however, most patients live in marshy areas, indicating that infections may occur in aquatic environments.

A Disease of Development: “I think there is a lot of evidence that development in rural areas [including construction that creates slow-moving water and bad drainage] has a role in the expansion of the disease.”

Jacques Grosset is an international authority on Buruli ulcer and is developing an early diagnostic test and a shorter treatment course.

Other NTDs cited in WHO's 2010 report on Neglected Tropical Diseases:

• Cysticercosis
• Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)
• Echinococcosis
• Endemic treponematoses
• Foodborne trematode infections
• Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
• Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
• Rabies
• Schistosomiasis
• Soil-transmitted helminthiases (intestinal parasitic worms) 


Jay Bream, PhD, assistant professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI); Paul Converse, PhD ’84, MHS ’80, research associate, Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research; Anna Durbin, MD, associate professor, International Health; Robert Gilman, MD, professor, International Health; Jacques Grosset, MD, professor, Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research; Alan Scott, PhD, professor, MMI; Sheila West, PhD, PharmD, professor, Epidemiology, El-Maghraby Professor of Preventive Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute; Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, professor, MMI


This forum is closed
  • Phyllis Sommer

    Chicago,Illinois 05/13/2011 11:21:40 AM

    Remember Chlamydia T. is a sexually transmitted disease and any prevention & teaching needs to include that fact. Condoms are number one prevention strategy. If people are warned about infertility as result of Chlamydia,they may be more amenable to condom use since fertility is highly valued in those countries.

  • Dr. B N Patnaik

    India 01/24/2012 02:23:35 AM

    I would like to know more about your C.trachomatis trail........I am preparing documents for clinical trailof Oral HPV vaccine in India .

Read about our policy on comments to magazine articles.

design element
Online Extras

Malaria History

Tobacco Fighter

Joanna Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, explains how to make a great cigarette warning label.

Watch Now

Talk to Us

Amazed? Enthralled? Disappointed? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts on articles and your ideas for new stories:

Download the PDF

Get a copy of all Departments articles in PDF format. Read stories offline, optimized for printing.

Download Now (2.5MB)