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ABSTRACT: Morbidity due to Buruli ulcer disease (BUD), a cutaneous infection caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, has been increasingly recognized in rural West Africa. The source and mode of transmission remain unknown.
To identify BUD risk factors, we conducted a case-control study in 3 BUD-endemic districts in Ghana. We enrolled case patients with clinically diagnosed BUD and obtained skin biopsy specimens. M. ulcerans infection was confirmed by at least 1 of the following diagnostic methods: histopathologic analysis, culture, polymerase chain reaction, and Ziehl-Neelsen staining of a lesion smear. We compared characteristics of case patients with confirmed BUD with those of age- and community-matched control subjects using conditional logistic regression analysis.
Among 121 case patients with confirmed BUD, leg lesions (49%) or arm lesions (36%) were common. Male case patients were significantly more likely than female case patients to have lesions on the trunk (25% vs. 6%; P = .009). Multivariable modeling among 116 matched case-control pairs identified wading in a river as a risk factor for BUD (odds ratio [OR], 2.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.27-5.68; P = .0096). Wearing a shirt while farming (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.11-0.70; P = .0071), sharing indoor living space with livestock (OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.15-0.86; P = .022), and bathing with toilet soap (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.19-0.90; P = .026) appeared to be protective. BUD was not significantly associated with penetrating injuries (P = .14), insect bites near water bodies (P = .84), bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccination (P = .33), or human immunodeficiency virus infection (P = .99).
BUD is an environmentally acquired infection strongly associated with exposure to river areas. Exposed skin may facilitate transmission. Until transmission is better defined, control strategies in BUD-endemic areas could include covering exposed skin.
Clinical Infectious Diseases 06/2005; 40(10):1445-53. · 9.37 Impact Factor