Wyoming reports a spike in tularemia cases

Courtesy of the CDC
The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) announced Monday that tularemia has caused the death of a man in Big Horn County and 10 other tularemia cases have been reported statewide.

Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever or deer fly fever, largely affects rabbits, hares and other small mammals and is able to spread to humans through interactions with sick animals and through tick and flea bites.

“To see this many cases reported in Wyoming in a single year is striking,” WDH State Epidemiologist Tracy Murphy said. “While tularemia should always be of potential concern, we typically are notified of just one or two cases annually. Over the last 25 years, the highest number of cases reported in Wyoming was six in 2001 and the last time we had a reported tularemia-linked death was in 2010.”

The WDH encourages people to avoid contact with untreated water and to avoid handling any wildlife that appears to be sick. Rubber gloves should be used if skinning game animals and any meat should be thoroughly cooked, especially rabbit or squirrel.

To avoid exposure through tick bites it is suggested that light colored clothing be worn to allow easier detection of ticks and that pant legs should be tucked into socks. Insect repellents are suggested and upon returning from a potential area of tick infestation, all individuals should be screened.

Tularemia symptoms include fever, chills muscle aches, progressive weakness and potentially pneumonia.

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Wyoming Department of Health

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