CE35 - Maladies infectieuses et environnement

Behaviours and spatial patterns related to the buruli Ulcer disease – COPTER-UB

Submission summary

Buruli ulcer is one of the 17 neglected tropical infectious diseases in the world. It is caused by the bacteria M. ulcerans and its symptoms are necrotizing cutaneous lesions.Buruli ulcer affects populations with weak access to sanitation, safe water and care living in rural areas of west and central Africa. For these populaions, there is a need for adapted and efficient prevention strategies. To date, only open surface stagnant waters or slow running waters have been identified at risk (since such configurations are reservoirs for the waterbugs which are considered to be the vector of the disease). Based on a field-work (taken as a laboratory) in the area of Pobé (Benin), the project Copter-UB will broaden the scope by observing all the human-environment interactions and the associated behaviours which may influence the incidence rates.

The COPTER-UB project affords both a contribution to global research on Buruli ulcer and a production of knowledge intended to support collective and adaptive decision-making processes explicitly aimed at preventing the emergence of new contaminations. The study focuses on (i) shared geographical diagnoses (with local populations) regarding water points and wetlands favorable to the development and reproduction of the M. ulcerans bacterium in everyday living spaces and (ii) anticipation of behaviors and territorial practices to prevent it. The COPTER-UB project uses mixed research methods and an innovative cross-cutting approach that brings together skills in geography, cartography, microbiology, public health and epidemiology in France and Benin.

According to WHO recommendations, this project will help to define proposals for preventive measures adapted to endemic areas. This project has a high potential for societal value (transfer of knowledge and development of prevention strategies) for the populations affected by this disease with sometimes dramatic socio-economic consequences. The innovative approaches of the project are also shaped to be transposable to other neglected tropical diseases (e.g. leprosy) and to other territories. With global warming, M. ulcerans infection could affect southern European countries including France and overseas territories. In recent years, clinical research in Australia has shown a worrying increase in the number of new cases of BU in the Victoria region, characterized by a temperate climate. In this sense, the valorization of the project will also be academic (publications and scientific communications).

Project coordination

Sébastien Fleuret (Sébastien Fleuret)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CDTUB Centre de diagnostic et de traitement de la lèpre et de l'ulcère de Buruli
CIFRED Université d'Abomey Calavi / CIFRED
ESO Sébastien Fleuret

Help of the ANR 319,864 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: May 2022 - 36 Months

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