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Tularemia, also known as “Rabbit Fever”, is a potentially fatal bacterial disease caused by Francisella tularensis. People and many animals, including rodents, pets, and livestock, can get tularemia. You or your pet may get tularemia from:
Bites from infected ticks or deer flies
Ingesting contaminated meat or water
Touching sick animals
Inhaling the bacteria
Infected animals may be depressed, have a fever, or refuse to eat. Infected rabbits and rodents may have a rough hair coat and huddle together strangely. Tularemia is not uncommon on the Western Slope, and there was a case of a cat with tularemia in Delta County in 2011.
Symptoms in humans depend on the route of infection. If infected through the skin, a non-healing wound and swollen lymph nodes may appear. If ingested, people may experience generalized gastrointestinal illness. If inhaled, pneumonia-like symptoms may appear.
If detected early, tularemia can be treated with antibiotics. To keep yourself safe, remember to avoid contact with all wild animals, wear insect repellant, and check yourself for ticks.