Tularemia - Cause

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While rare, Tularemia does occur in some areas. What was the suspected cause of your Tularemia infection?

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What causes tularemia?

Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Tularemia is an uncommon disease in humans, with statistics showing less than one case per million people per year in the United States. This translates into less than 150 cases per year, with a majority in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Illness caused by ticks and insects is most common in the summer months and often occurs in children. Disease caused in winter is associated with hunters who handle dead animals. F. tularensis can infect many types of animals but particularly affects rabbits, hares, and rodents. The disease is sometimes called rabbit fever because it occurs when hunters contact the skin of infected rabbits. Farmers, veterinarians, foresters, landscape workers, and hunters are at risk of contracting tularemia because of their likely direct animal contact, but the disease can also affect others who inadvertently come into contact with animals or are bitten by insects.

Tularemia is usually acquired directly by skinning, eating, or otherwise handling infected animals. In rare instances, transmission has occurred when wild rodents (prairie dogs) were sold as pets. Dried animal material may be aerosolized and inhaled, causing disease. Domestic animals such as cats may pick up the organism on their claws after killing a wild rodent or rabbit. Dogs and cats may also eat contaminated meat, causing fever and swollen nodes. Transmission of tularemia from dogs or cats to humans is rare. Finally, the disease has been transmitted by drinking water contaminated with animal products. Contaminated food and water have been responsible for large outbreaks in times of war. Tularemia does not spread from person to person.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Got a rash, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 17

I touched a bunny found in my back yard by my young son. The next day or so I developed a rash at my left eye area and seemingly spread to chin/neck. It is itchy and I have swelling of eye area, not in eye but around it is the worst. Doctor is treating with steroids, but wondering if I need antibiotic. There are no other notable symptoms of tularemia infection.

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Comment from: ShellB, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 08

I was recently diagnosed with tularemia, and I believe I contracted it by a tick bite. I have also tested positive to 3 other bacteria using the Western blot test. I am being treated by IV gentamicin for 14 days. I am hoping it works. I have had skin lesions for almost 14 years and no other doctor could diagnose or find anything to treat it. I am also a type I diabetic, so my immune system is weak.

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