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News Release

Tularemia found in Southeast Fort Collins area rabbit

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Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: Jul 3, 2014

Contact Information:

Jane Viste
498-6750
jviste@larimer.org

The preliminary diagnosis of tularemia in a wild rabbit in Southeast Fort Collins has prompted the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment to alert residents of the area to take certain precautions. Residents of Hahn Acres, Linden Park, Paragon Estates, and homes in the Paragon Point subdivision along Southridge Greens Blvd. are advised that tularemia-causing bacteria may be present in some of the mammals -- especially rabbits, rodents and hares -- in the area.  This includes Trilby Rd, between Timberline Road and Fossil Creek [the actual creek, not the Parkway],  including the northwest  section of Fossil Creek Wetlands natural area.   There has been a die-off of rabbits in the area over the past few weeks, but until an animal was tested today, the cause of the die-off was unknown.

 

Tularemia is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted to humans by the handling of sick or dead animals infected with tularemia. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies), by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and by the inhalation of airborne bacteria.

 

Typical signs of infection in humans are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics, therefore should you have any of these early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

Dogs and cats also get tularemia by eating infected rabbits or other rodents and through tick and deer fly bites. If your pet shows symptoms of illness including fever, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores, take it to the veterinarian promptly. As in humans, tularemia is easily treated if diagnosed early in dogs and cats.

 

To prevent contracting tularemia, the following is strongly advised:

 

  • Avoid handling dead animals;
  • Leash your pets when outdoors and keep them away from dead animals.
  • If a dead animal must be moved, avoid direct contact with it.  Put on a repellent to protect yourself from its fleas or ticks, and use a shovel to scoop it up.  Place it in a plastic bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle. Wash your hands well afterwards.
  • When outdoors near places where rabbits or rodents are present,  wear an insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Keep pets confined and away from dead animals.
  • Routinely use a tick and flea preventative on pets. Read the label and consult your veterinarian if you are unsure what to use.

 

For more information on Tularemia, see http://www.cdc.gov/Tularemia.

 

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.