And crocs may also carry the cure for the disease, which at the moment can only be stopped by surgery.
For decades, the cause of the Daintree ulcer, a tropical disease that is prevalent in the Daintree and Mossman area as well as Victoria’s Gippsland region, have been a mystery.
The bacterial disease, which causes disfiguring ulcers on the skin, also affects thousands of people in Africa each year.
In Australia, there have been fewer than 100 cases reported since the 1960s.
James Cook University scientists have been trying to identify which animals may carry and transmit disease.
In what could lead to a breakthrough in finding a cure, and potentially help to control the spread of the ulcer to humans, researchers have found a link between the disease, saltwater crocodiles and a species of mosquito.
JCU PhD student Jennifer Vaughn said she had found evidence crocodiles from both the Far North and the Northern Territory carried the bacteria.
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