Abstract

Buruli ulcers have not been previously described in China, and only once at higher latitudes on the northern hemisphere. A patient who travelled in the Shan Dong Province in the People's Republic of China developed an ulcer which was proven to be a Buruli ulcer. The clinical picture and histopathological findings from biopsy specimens are characteristic for a Buruli ulcer, and also the growth in culture (Coletsos medium) at a restricted temperature of 30 °C. A multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based on the amplification of the gene encoding for 16S ribosomal RNA and a nested PCR based on the Mycobacterium ulcerans specific repeated sequence 2404 were performed. These PCR investigations identified the bacteria as M. ulcerans, subspecies shinshuense. The patient was initially treated with clarithromycin and rifampicin, which was changed to ciprofloxacin and rifabutin when rifampicin resistance of the first isolate was established. There were no signs of reactivation of the disease 6 months after the end of treatment. M. ulcerans infection occurs above 30 ° latitude on the northern hemisphere in China and is caused by M. ulcerans, subspecies shinshuense. This case appears to be cured by chemotherapy alone, in contrast to the general experience that surgical treatment is indicated. The granulomatous reaction with only fragments of acid-fast bacteria in the biopsy at the end of treatment may indicate the development of an adequate cell-mediated immune response leading to resistance to the infection.

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Author notes

Epidemiology

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