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Health Department warns of increase in Tularemia cases

Health Department warns of increase in Tularemia cases
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Scotts Bluff County Health Department has been notified of a significant increase in positive Tularemia cases in Scotts Bluff County and eastern Wyoming over the past couple weeks.

Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever” or “deer fly fever” is a bacterial disease associated with various animal species. Tularemia frequently affects rabbits, hares and rodents and has been associated with rabbit and rodent die-offs. Humans can be infected with the bacteria which is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.

People can get tularemia from many different sources, including through the bite of an infected insect (usually a tick or deer fly), handling infected animal carcasses, consuming contaminated food or water or by inhalation of the bacteria. Tularemia is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms usually appear three to five days after exposure and can include a sudden high fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain and a sore or lesion at the site where the bacteria entered the body. If the bacteria are ingested, such as by swallowing contaminated water or eating improperly cooked/prepared rabbit meat, a person may have a sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. If any of these symptoms are noted after handling dead animals or swallowing untreated drinking water, contact your physician.

Recommendations for avoiding exposure to tularemia include the following:

Do not handle sick or dead animals.

Wear rubber gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits.

Cook meat thoroughly (165 degrees F)

Use protective clothing and insect repellents to avoid deerfly and tick bites.

Avoid untreated drinking water.

Use DEET or other tick repellant during tick season

Additional information is available at www.CDC.gov/tularemia

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