Sydney - Cases of an infectious flesh-eating bug are on the rise in the southern Australian state of Victoria, with scientists unable to explain how it is spreading.
The Buruli or Daintree ulcer causes an infection which results in severe destructive lesions of the skin and soft tissue, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.
The lesions can have devastating impacts on the sufferers including long-term disability, deformity, amputation and occasionally even death.
Victoria had 182 new cases in 2016, 275 in 2017 and 30 so far this year, medical researchers said in the study.
The cases are rapidly increasing in number, becoming more severe in nature and occurring in new geographic areas, the study found.
"Victoria is facing a worsening epidemic... and we don't know how to prevent it," said Daniel O'Brien, one of the authors and an associate professor at the University of Melbourne.
The researchers said efforts to control the disease have been severely hampered because the environmental reservoir and mode of transmission to humans remain unknown.
"It is difficult to prevent a disease when it is not known how infection is acquired," the experts said in the journal article.