Sweetwater County Public Health would like to remind hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of tularemia while enjoying the outdoors this fall.
Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Fracisella Tularensis found in animals. Especially rodents, rabbits and hares.
Symptoms of Tularmia may include:
- Sudden Fever
- Muscle Aches
- Joint Pain
- Dry Cough
- Progressive Weakness
People can also develop pneumonia with chest pain, couch and difficulty breathing.
Other symptoms of Tularemia depend on how a person was exposed to the bacteria. These symptoms can include ulcers on the skin or mouth, swollen and painful lymph glands, swollen and painful eyes and sore throat.
People can get Tularemia many different ways:
- Being bitten by an infected tick, deerfly or other insect
- Handling infected animal carcasses
- Eating or drinking contaminated food or water
- Breathing in the bacteria
Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person. People who have Tularemia do not need to be isolated. People who have been exposed to the bacteria should be treated as soon as possible. The disease can be fatal if it is not treated with he right antibiotics.
Symptoms usually appear three to five days after exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as 14 days.
Consult your doctor as the first sign of illness. Be sure to let the doctor know if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics, which must be taken as directed by your doctor to ensure the best possible result. Let your doctor know if you have any allergy to antibiotics.
A vaccine for Tularemia is under review by the Food and Drug Administration and is not currently available in the United States.
Tularemia occurs naturally in many parts of the United States. Use insect repellent containing DEET on your skin, or treat clothing with repellent containing permethrin, to prevent insect bites. Use care and wear gloves when handling sick or dead animals. Be sure to cook your food thoroughly and that your water is from a safe source. Note any change in behavior to your pets, especially rodents rabbits and hares, and consult a veterinarian if they develop unusual symptoms.