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Secondary Infection of Buruli Ulcer Lesions (lay summary) 

This is a lay summary of the article published under the DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-11114-4_13

Published onJul 03, 2023
Secondary Infection of Buruli Ulcer Lesions (lay summary) 

Better care of infected Buruli Ulcer wounds may shorten hospital stays

While antibiotic medicines do help patients with wounds caused by Buruli ulcer (BU) disease, many wounds take long to heal. Some patients develop further harmful infections in their BU wounds from other bacteria, which can require surgery or lengthy hospital stays.

Researchers say the choice of antibiotic against these “secondary” bacterial infections is important, as well as how long the patient receives the antibiotic. They also say that good care of BU wounds, infected or not, is key to shortening expensive hospital stays and avoiding surgery.

BU disease, which is caused by the Mycobacterium ulcerans microorganism, is common in tropical regions like West Africa. The disease causes ulcers (wounds) on the skin, and can cause permanent disability and disfigurement without antibiotic treatment.

Researchers don’t know much about secondary infections of these wounds, except that bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are often responsible.

Previous research showed that along with antibiotic treatment, good wound care helps to prevent secondary infections and reduces healing time, and therefore shortens hospital stays. 

Unfortunately though, there are no standard guidelines available for healthcare workers on how exactly to manage secondary infections when they happen. Doctors generally prescribe further antibiotics, but these aren’t always effective.

In this study, researchers wanted to establish a standard set of guidelines to prevent secondary BU wound infections, manage secondary BU wound infection and to generally improve BU wound management. 

They wanted to identify and describe the bacteria causing secondary BU wound infections, by comparing laboratory data and clinical observations from previous studies with their own clinical and laboratory analysis. 

They also investigated how BU wounds are managed, and how wounds that had become infected with other bacteria (secondary infection) are managed.

Their investigation confirmed that healthcare workers need better guidelines about how to use antibiotics to treat secondary infections.They said good wound care is key to preventing expensive and long hospital stays, and to increasing the number of wounds healed without the need for costly surgery.  

Importantly, they recommended better ways to manage infected and uninfected BU wounds. They said antibiotics should be used as little as possible.

This study and analysis was conducted by Ghanaian scientists using case studies and patients from several African countries. 



This summary is a free resource intended to make African research and research that affects Africa, more accessible to non-expert global audiences. It was compiled by ScienceLink's team of professional African science communicators as part of the Masakhane MT: Decolonise Science project. ScienceLink has taken every precaution possible during the writing, editing, and fact-checking process to ensure that this summary is easy to read and understand, while accurately reporting on the facts presented in the original research paper. Note, however, that this summary has not been fact-checked or approved by the authors of the original research paper, so this summary should be used as a secondary resource. Therefore, before using, citing or republishing this summary, please verify the information presented with the original authors of the research paper, or email [email protected] for more information.

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