Wyoming has seen 14 cases of Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, this summer, the most in 25 years. One man has died from the bacterial disease caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium.
Small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits, are most likely to be infected by Tularemia, but other mammals can contract the disease. The disease can be transmitted to humans from infected ticks and deer flies, handling infected animals, meat or contaminated water or breathing in air-borne bacteria. It isn’t passed person-to-person.
Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, swollen lymph glands, mouth sores and joint pain. Antibiotics can be used to treat Tularemia, if diagnosed early. The most common form of the disease is Ulceroglandular. An ulcer will form on the skin at the site the bacterium entered the body usually through a tick or deer fly bite.
“We’re not overly concerned about the current cases,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases said. “This is no time to panic in any way.”
There are precautionary measures to aid in preventing Tularemia including: limiting contact with sick or dead animals and wearing gloves if contact is necessary, wearing a mask when doing landscaping, and using insect repellent when enjoying the outdoors.