13-year-old girl starts online petition for flesh-eating disease spreading on Mornington Peninsula

A VICTORIAN teenager has started an online petition calling on the Federal Government to increase research into a flesh-eating ulcer she claims is “running rampant” on the Mornington Peninsula.

Ella Crofts, 13, is suffering from Mycobacterium Ulcerans, a tropical disease that causes “severe pain, inflammation and decomposition of tissue and fat.”

She wants the Government to boost research efforts into the disease and has gained nearly 2000 supporters so far, as well as the ear of Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The teen said she started feeling pain in her knee in April and saw various specialists before the ulcer was diagnosed.

Despite six months of expert care under infectious disease specialists and three surgeries to “clean out the dead tissue” she has still not recovered.

“The Bairnsdale Ulcer releases a toxin called Mycolactone. This toxin decreases immune system function and results in tissue death,” she wrote on Change.org.

“This infection comes from the same family as leprosy and tuberculosis. How the disease is spread is unknown. There is currently no prevention against it.”

“There have been over 150 cases of Mycobacterium Ulcerans in Victoria so far this year. Many of them are active, healthy kids like me, and most are on the Mornington Peninsula.”

Ella Crofts has been praised online for her effort to boost research into a tropical disease.

Ella Crofts has been praised online for her effort to boost research into a tropical disease.Source:Supplied

Ella Crofts says a tropical disease found in 33 countries is “running rampant” in Victoria. Picture: Change.org.

Ella Crofts says a tropical disease found in 33 countries is “running rampant” in Victoria. Picture: Change.org.Source:Supplied

The World Health Organisation reports the Buruli ulcer affects skin and sometimes bone in patients. It’s not known how the disease is transmitted and the main strategy is to minimise death and prevent long-term disability in sufferers.

It has been reported in 33 countries including in Africa, the America’s, Asia and the Western Pacific. In Australia, 10 per cent of those affected are children under 15 years’ old.

On Wednesday, Ella posted an update saying she had spoken to Mr Hunt who had promised to support further research.

“Thousands of people worldwide suffer from this infectious disease, most of them are in third-world countries. If we, a wealthy country, could research this disease we might save countless people from disfigurement and disability,” she said.