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Tularemia (Rabbit Fever)

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Tularemia facts

  • Tularemia is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis.
  • Tularemia affects animals and humans.
  • Humans acquire tularemia when they come into contact with infected animals or are bitten by insects that feed on infected animals.
  • Tularemia may be spread through inhalation of dried animal matter, eating undercooked game, skinning or dressing killed animals, or drinking water contaminated with animal carcasses.
  • Tularemia is not transferred from person to person.
  • Tularemia causes fever, fatigue, aches and headache. Swollen lymph nodes are common. A sore may form at the site of inoculation. The organism may spread widely, causing major organs to fail. Pneumonia is common after inhalation but may also occur when the organism spreads throughout the body.
  • Tularemia is a potential bioterrorism agent because the infecting bacteria can be freeze-dried into a power which can be aerosolized and only a few inhaled bacteria can cause disease.
  • If untreated, tularemia causes prolonged fever and fatigue and is often fatal. With treatment, death is rare.
  • Tularemia is treated with intramuscular streptomycin or intravenous gentamicin. Oral medications are less reliable and are not currently recommended for significant disease.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2016


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