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Case of tularemia in Colorado reported – DVM360

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Colorado Public Health officials announced recently that the first human tularemia case this year was detected in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The disease is primarily found in rural areas but has been detected across the country, except for Hawaii. 2

Tularemia can be transmitted to humans by bites of infected insects, skin contact with infected animals, drinking or eating contaminated water or food, inhaling airborne bacteria through contaminated aerosols, agricultural and landscaping dust, or by inhaling contaminated aerosols. Tularemia can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected insect, through skin contact with an infected animal, through drinking or eating contaminated food or water, or through inhaling aerosols containing bacteria or dust from agricultural and landscaping.

About 200 cases of human tularemia per year are reported in the United States. The majority of cases occur in states in the west and south-central regions. In 2023, nine cases were reported by Colorado. 4

Early diagnosis and medical care are essential.

Tularemia symptoms include fever, non healing skin ulcers on the site of infection, swollen, painful lymph glands and inflamed eyelids. They can also be diarrhea or pneumonia. When the infection is caused by contaminated water or food, symptoms can include a sore stomach, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Inhalation of f tularensiscan cause pneumonia. Symptoms include fever, chills and headache.

Incubation periods for the disease can range from 3 to 5 but also 1 to 14 days. 2 The treatment is a course antibiotics. Tularemia is treatable and curable in humans. If you experience symptoms of tularemia following a possible contact with wildlife, it is important to consult a doctor.


Tularemia infection in pets

The disease has been reported to affect dogs, cats pigs and horses. 5 Tularemia is rare in dogs. However, they can be infected by insect bites or arachnids, drinking contaminated tap water or eating wildlife animals infected with the disease. Canine infections can cause a short period of lethargy and a mild fever. Conjunctivitis and uveitis are also possible in dogs, but these symptoms are rare. Antibiotics are used to treat infected dogs. 5

It is rare for cats to get tularemia, but it can still happen. The symptoms of a feline tularemia can vary depending on the bacterial species and the route by which the infection was acquired. However, they may include a high temperature, large, painful lymph nodes, abdominal pain, ticks, increased respiratory and pulse rates, decreased appetite, stiffness and reduced mobility, frequent urination and coughing, diarrhea and open sores in the mouth and throat. Infected cats with tularemia have a high mortality rate. They can collapse and die within hours or days.

1 is a list of measures to prevent exposure to humans and pets.

  • Using insect repellent during all outdoor activity
  • Avoid all contact with wild rodents
  • Avoid feeding rodents or rabbits in your yard or patio
  • Get rid of piles of wood, trash and weeds in your home
  • Wear gloves when handling sick or dead animals to avoid touching them.
  • Avoid drinking surface water that has not been treated, such as lakes, ponds and rivers
  • Ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked before consumption
  • Keep your pet on a leash when in an area where wildlife may be present.
  • Consult a veterinarian if your pet has ever interacted with wildlife.
  • Avoid handling sick animals without wearing hand and face protection and seek immediate veterinary attention for sick pets.


References

  1. Jefferson County reports the first human case of 2024 tularemia. Release of news. Jefferson County Colorado Public Health. Accessed July 9, 2024. Accessed on July 9, 2024. https://www.jeffco.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2247
  2. FAQs about tularemia Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 9, 2020. https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/tularemia/faq.asp#:~:text=Tularemia%2C%20also%20known%20as%20%E2%80%9Crabbit,Q.
  3. Tularemia: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed on July 9, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/tularemia/about/index.html
  4. Zoonotic diseases in Colorado 2018-2023. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Accessed on July 9, 2024. https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQiHGHnuA3a1eItYaqFdusko0oPPOXTDqc84Vre5iVq1hPgTF7oafN5_lUNiDdsDvy-PmFFpPw0L6iV/pub
  5. Tularemia in dogs. Weir M., Williams K., Downing R. VCA Animal Hospitals. Accessed July 10, 2020. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tularemia-in-dogs
  6. Tularemia in cats. Weir M., Williams K., Downing R. VCA Animal Hospitals. Accessed July 10, 2020. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tularemia-in-cats
  7. Foley JE. Tularemia in cats. Merck Veterinary Manual. August 2018. Accessed July 10, 2020. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/disorders-affecting-multiple-body-systems-of-cats/tularemia-in-cats