Wyoming issues tularemia warning

Courtesy of the CDC
Following reported cases of tularemia in humans and animals in northern parts of the state, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) issued a warning about the disease more commonly known as rabbit or deer fly fever on Friday.

Frequently found in rabbits, hares and rodents, tularemia can be fatal in humans in rare cases.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, painful and swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, skin ulcers, and diarrhea.

If bacterial material is inhaled, symptoms also can include chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, and pneumonia.

“Recently, we are hearing about rabbit die-offs and have seen tularemia cases confirmed in two Weston County residents, in dead voles near Devils Tower in Crook County and in a Washakie County cat,” Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with the WDH, said. “Tularemia is always a concern, but is not common. To see this activity is concerning.”

The bacteria is usually spread in humans through a tick bite or the handling of an infected animal.

The health department recommends that residents tuck pant legs into socks or shoes, use insect repellant, and look for ticks on anyone who travels through tick-heavy areas. Pet owners should regularly check their pets for ticks, and they should consider veterinarian-approved tick control products.

Health officials also warned against handling rabbits and other wildlife that appear to be ill, and to avoid drinking, swimming or bathing in untreated water. They also said that hand washing should be thorough and all meats should be cooked thoroughly, especially wild game.

Organizations in this story

Wyoming Department of Health 401 Hathaway Building Cheyenne, WY 82002

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