Tularemia

  • Definition

    Tularemia is an infection common in wild rodents. It is transmitted to humans by contact with infected animal tissues or by ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes.


    Alternative Names

    Deerfly fever; Rabbit fever; Pahvant Valley plague; Ohara disease; Yatobyo (Japan); Lemming fever


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

    Humans can get the disease through:

    • Direct contact, through a break in the skin, with an infected animal or its dead body
    • The bite of an infected tick, horsefly, or mosquito
    • Eating infected meat (rare)

    Areas where the disorder most commonly occurs include North America and parts of Europe and Asia. The illness may continue for several weeks after symptoms begin.

    Some people may develop pneumonia after being infected. Risk factors include recent exposure to rabbits or a recent tick bite. The disease is very rare in the United States.

    Francisella tularensis is considered a potential bioterrorism agent. An aerosol release would be a possible method of infection. Pneumonia cases would start 1 - 10 days after people were exposed.