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Federal Government Invest $1.5m To Beat Flesh-Eating Bug

More than $1 million will be spent tackling a mysterious flesh-eating bug and reducing its spread in Australia.

The federal government on Thursday announced it is investing $1.5 million into researching the Buruli ulcer, which has spread throughout Victoria and far north Queensland.

Most commonly found in west or central Africa and usually associated with stagnant water, it can have devastating impacts on sufferers, including long-term disability and deformity.

In Victoria, the number of people contracting the disease has soared, with 182 new cases in 2016, 275 in 2017 and 30 so far in 2018 and experts say there is potential for the disease to affect thousands in the state each year.

A two-year study will be led by University of Melbourne professor Tim Stinear, who has found mosquitoes are a key factor in spreading the bacteria to humans.

In one of the first investigations of its kind in the world to study the transmission of the Buruli ulcer, the study will use the funds to conduct a cull of the mosquitoes in coastal Victoria.

The project will also receive an additional $1.5 million of partner funding from the Victorian government and two local councils.

"This is a horrible and painful medical condition and research is vital to get to the bottom of this new health challenge," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.

"My hope is that research will eventually identify a common source of the cause of this type of bacterium, which will lead to faster diagnoses, treatment and prevention strategies."

More than $3 million has already been spent by state and federal governments in the past decade on researching the disease.

AAP

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