Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever”, is a
bacterial disease that can affect both animals and
humans. It is most commonly found in animals such
as rabbits, rodents, and squirrels. It can also
infect domestic animals such as cats or sheep.
Who can get
Tularemia occurs naturally in the United
States. Most cases occur in the south-central and
western states. Nearly all cases occur in rural
areas. There are typically about 200 cases of
tularemia reported each year in the United States.
the symptoms of tularemia?
Symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after
exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as
Signs and symptoms of tularemia can depend on
how a person is exposed to the bacteria. Possible
symptoms include skin ulcers, swollen and painful
lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth
sores, diarrhea, or pneumonia.
If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms may
include sudden fever, chills, headaches, muscle
aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive
weakness. People with pneumonia can develop chest
pain, difficulty breathing, bloody sputum, and
Tularemia is most commonly spread by being
bitten by an infected tick, deerfly, or other
insect, handling infected animal carcasses, eating
or drinking contaminated food or water, or
breathing in the bacteria. Tularemia is not known
to be spread from person to person.
What is the
treatment for tularemia?
Tularemia is treated by taking antibiotics for
10 to 14 days. If not treated properly, tularemia
can be fatal.
tularemia be prevented?
To prevent the spread to tularemia, rubber
gloves should be worn when skinning or handling
animals, especially rabbits. Meat from wild game
should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Avoid
bites from flies and ticks by wearing protective
clothing and insect repellents. Check for ticks
frequently. Avoid drinking untreated water.
Instruct children not to handle any sick or dead
tularemia be used as a bio-weapon?
The bacteria that cause tularemia are highly
infectious. Also, a small number of bacteria
(10-50 organisms) can cause disease. If used as a
weapon, it would most likely be made airborne for
exposure by inhalation. People who inhale the
bacteria could experience severe respiratory
illness, including pneumonia and systemic
infection, if they are not treated.
How do I
get more information on tularemia?
Other Category A disease agents