Tularemia is an illness caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals such as rabbits and rodents. It can be serious if left untreated.
How does tularemia spread?
Tularemia has not been proven to be contagious. Tularemia can spread through:
- The bite of an infected tick or other insect
- Handling animal carcasses
- Consuming contaminated food or water
- Breathing in the bacteria
What are the symptoms of tularemia?
Symptoms usually show within 3-5 days of infection, although it can take as long as 2 weeks. People should be treated for tularemia right away as it can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms include:
- Sudden fever
- Pain in the joints or muscles
- Dry cough
- Mouth or skin ulcers
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen, painful eyes
- Sore throat
What should I do if I believe I may have tularemia?
Visit your doctor right away for proper diagnoses. Tell them if you have a weakened immune system or may be pregnant.
How is tularemia treated?
Tularemia is treated with antibiotics, and they must be taken as prescribed to fully work. Antibiotics should be taken as soon as possible to keep the infection from becoming serious. A vaccine is being reviewed by the FDA, but it is currently not available in the U.S.
How can I prevent tularemia?
Use insect repellent with DEET and wear protective clothing to avoid bug bites. Use gloves when handling sick or dead animals. Cook food thoroughly and only drink clean water. Take your pets to the vet if they are sick or showing unusual behavior.
For more information on tularemia, click here.