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Persistence of Mycobacterium ulcerans Disease (Buruli Ulcer) in the Historical Focus of Kasongo Territory, the Democratic Republic of Congo

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  • 1 Mycobacteriology Unit and Immunology Unit, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium; Laboratory for Microbiology, Parasitology and Hygiene, Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium; Group T, Leuven Engineering College (Association K. U. Leuven), Leuven, Belgium; Institut Médical Evangélique, Kimpese Hospital, Kimpese, Bas-Congo Province, Democratic Republic of Congo; Zone de Santé Rural Kasongo, Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo; Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Centre, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas; Cartography–Geographic Information System Unit, Department of Geography, Ghent University, Belgium; Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Buruli Ulcer Supervision, Zone de Santé Rural Kasongo, Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo; Programme National de Lutte Contre l’Ulcère de Buruli, Democratic Republic of Congo; Diseases Control and Prevention Program, World Health Organization, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Fifty years after the last report of Mycobacterium ulcerans infections (Buruli ulcer [BU]) in Kasongo Territory, Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we conducted a small-scale cross-sectional survey to assess if this historical BU focus was still active and if so to explore the disease epidemiology. Seventy-five active and inactive BU cases were identified on clinical grounds of which two of 28 BU active cases were laboratory confirmed. We used a modified BU02 form to reconstruct the local disease dynamics and we believe that the horrific conflict in eastern DRC and exceptional flooding were the most likely causes of the re-emergence of the disease. There is a need in the DRC to decentralize and integrate surveillance and control activities at local level to increase the effectiveness of patient management.

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