Rabbits with tularemia in Colorado – 08/27/2005

  • November 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm #959

    Tularemia found in rabbits in Pueblo County


    Seven rabbits in Pueblo County have tested positive for tularemia,
    according to officials at the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
    The rabbits were found in Pueblo West, at Midway Ranch and near Eads
    in eastern Colorado. Residents in those areas had reported unusual
    numbers of dead rabbits. Seven dead rabbits were tested and all were
    found to have tularemia.

    These are the first identified cases of tularemia in Pueblo County
    this year. The last case of tularemia in a human in Pueblo County
    was in 2001.

    “Tularemia is similar to plague. It is typically found in animals,
    especially rodents, rabbits, and hares,” said Sarah Ruybalid,
    director of the Family and Community Health Division at the Pueblo
    City-County Health Department. “Tularemia can be passed to humans or
    animals through the bite of infected insects, most commonly ticks and
    deer flies, and by handling infected, sick, or dead animals,” said
    Ruybalid. The disease can also be passed to people or animals if
    they eat meat or drink water infected by the virus, which is
    especially important information for hunters.

    According to Melissa Mazur, the health department’s
    epidemiologist, “Tularemia occurs naturally in Colorado and exposure
    can be reduced by avoiding contact with ticks and any sick or dead

    “Simple precautions can prevent this illness,” said Mazur. “Tularemia
    can be treated with antibiotics, but we really want residents to know
    what steps to take to protect themselves and their pets in the first

    People with tularemia may have symptoms that include a skin ulcer,
    sudden fever, chills, headache, body aches, dry cough, and
    progressive weakness. Symptoms of tularemia in animals, specifically
    cats and dogs, are nearly identical to the symptoms of plague. Cats
    generally become lethargic; have a high fever and little appetite.
    They may also experience pneumonia and swollen lymph nodes. Like with
    plague, dogs generally do not show any symptoms of the disease.

    The Pueblo City-County Health Department recommends the following to
    protect against the disease:

    · Avoid ticks. The best protection for pets, especially cats, is to
    keep them indoors. If outdoors with your pets, keeping them out of
    heavily wooded areas can provide additional protection, as these
    areas are ideal for ticks to live.

    · Stay out of areas that wild rodents inhabit. If you enter areas
    with wild rodents, wear insect repellent containing DEET.

    · Prevent you pets from hunting or eating wild rodents, especially

    · Avoid all contact with wild rodents, including squirrels and
    rabbits; do not feed or handle them.

    · Never touch sick or dead animals with your bare hands. If an animal
    must be moved, use a long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage
    bag, and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.

    · Avoid drinking unpurified water from streams or lakes and prevent
    your pets from doing the same.

    · See a physician if you become ill with a high fever and/or a
    swollen lymph node. Tularemia is a treatable illness when diagnosed

    · See a veterinarian if you pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or
    swollen lymph nodes.

    For more information about tularemia, please contact the Pueblo City-
    County Health Department at (719) 583-4942, or visit the Centers for
    Disease Control’s website.

    Updated: 8/26/2005 2:40:41 PM COMMENTS ON THIS STORY

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