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Tularemia (Rabbit Fever, Deer-fly Fever)

Tularemia is an infectious bacterial disease (Francisella tularensis). Tularemia is usually a disease of wild animals, but severe illness and death may also occur in humans. The bacterium that causes tularemia is common in various kinds of ticks and in small and medium-sized mammals, especially rabbits, hares, beavers, muskrats, and voles. In the United States, there are two main sources of infection for humans: 1) bites by ticks or biting flies, and 2) contact with infected animals or their carcasses, especially the cottontail rabbit. People may also become infected from eating improperly cooked rabbit or hare meat or from contact with contaminated water, dust, hay, mud, or animal bites. The disease is not spread from human-to-human.

To prevent infections, avoid exposure to bites by ticks and blood-feeding flies and avoid direct contact with wild animal tissues. When you enter areas infested with biting flies and ticks, wear protective clothing, and apply insect repellents as directed by the manufacturer. Examine clothing and skin frequently for ticks. Remove attached ticks promptly. Hunters and trappers need to wear gloves, masks, and protective eye covers when handling animal carcasses. Animals that appear ill should not be skinned or dressed. Teach children to not handle any sick or dead animals.

Information for Health Professionals
Last modified on: 1/15/2015 9:52 AM