November 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm #959MikeKeymaster
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
The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.