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Tularemia is bacterial disease associated with various animal species, especially rodents, rabbits, hares and beavers. Humans can be infected with the bacteria, which is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.
People can get tularemia from many different sources, including through the bite of an infected insect (usually a tick or deerfly), handling infected animal carcasses, consuming contaminated food or water or by inhalation of the bacteria.
Although this disease can occur throughout the year, the peak times correspond with tick season (in spring and summer) and with the rabbit hunting season in early winter. Tularemia is not spread from person to person.
Symptoms usually appear three to five days after exposure and can include a sudden high fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain and a sore or lesion at the site where the bacteria entered the body.
In addition, if the bacteria are ingested, such as by swallowing contaminated water or eating improperly cooked/prepared rabbit meat, a person may have a sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. If any of these symptoms are noted after handling dead animals or swallowing untreated drinking water (as you find in a creek), contact your physician.
Recommendations for avoiding exposure to tularemia include the following:
See our Preventing Animal-Borne Disease brochure for more information.
For more information, please contact JCPH Environmental Health Services at 303-271-5700 or Dave Volkel at 303-271-5730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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