What is Tularemia?
Tularemia is a bacterial disease associated with both animals and humans. Many wild and domestic animals can be infected.  The rabbit is most often involved in disease outbreaks, which hints at its alternate name, rabbit fever.
Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.  The primary vectors are ticks and deer flies although it can also spread through arthropods.  The most known reservoir hosts include rabbits, prairie dogs, hares, and muskrats.
How do people get Tularemia?
People can get this disease mostly by being involved in outdoor activities.  Some of the most common ways are:
  • Bites from infected ticks
  • Direct contact through the skin or mucous membranes with blood or tissue while handling infected animals (rabbit hunting)
  • Contact with fluids from infected deer flies or ticks
  • Handling or eating insufficiently cooked rabbit meat
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Inhaling dust from contaminated soil or handling contaminated pets or wild animals
The good news about Tularemia is that it’s not spread from human to human.

What are the signs and symptoms of Tularemia?
Symptoms vary, depending on the route of introduction.
Cases of infection after handling an animal carcass:
·         Slow-growing ulcer at the site where the bacteria entered the skin (usually on the hand)
·         Swollen lymph nodes
Cases when the bacterium is inhaled:
·         Pneumonia-like symptoms
o   Severe cough
o   Frothy, bloody sputum
o   Difficulty breathing
Cases when the bacterium is ingested:
·         Sore throat
·         Abdominal Pain
·         Diarrhea and Vomiting

What is the treatment for Tularemia?
Usual cases are treated with Steptomyocin, Gentamicin, Tetracyclin, Chloramphinicol, or Fluroquinolones.

How can Tularemia be prevented?

  • Avoid drinking, bathing, swimming or working in untreated water where infection may be common among wild animals.
  • Use impermeable gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits.
  • Cook the meat of wild rabbits and rodents thoroughly.
  • Avoid being bitten by deer flies and ticks. Here are a few helpful hints:
    • Check your clothing often for ticks. Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants so the tiny ticks are easier to see. Tuck long pants into your socks and boots. Wear a head covering or hat for added protection.
    • For those who may not tolerate wearing all of these clothes in hot, humid weather, apply insect repellent containing DEET.  Be sure to wash treated skin after coming indoors. If you do cover up, use repellents while in locations where ticks are common.
    • Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.  Weeds serve good nesting locations for flies and ticks.
    • Check yourself, children and other family members every two to three hours for ticks. Most ticks seldom attach quickly and rarely transmit tick-borne disease until they have been attached for four or more hours.
    • If you let your pets outdoors, check them often for ticks. Infected ticks also can transmit some tick-borne diseases to them. (Check with your veterinarian about preventive measures against tick-borne diseases.) You are at risk from ticks that "hitch a ride" on your pets but fall off in your home before they feed.
    • Make sure the property around your home is unattractive to ticks. Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut.

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