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Alternative namesDeerfly fever; Rabbit fever
DefinitionTularemia is an infection common in wild rodents caused by the organism Francisella tularensis and transmitted to humans by contact with animal tissues or ticks .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Humans can contract tularemia in the following ways:
Endemic areas (areas where the disorder occurs most commonly) include North America and parts of Europe and Asia. The illness may continue for several weeks after the onset of symptoms.
Some people may develop an atypical pneumonia . Risk factors include recent exposure to rabbits or recent a tick bite . The disease is very rare in the United States.
Francisella tularensis is considered a potential bioterrorism agent. An aerosol release would be the most likely method and would result in a large number of pneumonia cases several weeks after exposure.
Signs and tests
TreatmentThe goal of treatment is to eliminate the infection with antibiotic therapy. Streptomycin and tetracycline are commonly used in this infection.
Note: oral tetracycline is usually not prescribed for children until after all the permanent teeth have erupted. It can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming.
Expectations (prognosis)Tularemia is fatal in about 5% of untreated cases and in less than 1% with treatment.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms develop after a rodent bite, tick bite , or exposure to the flesh of a wild animal.
PreventionA vaccine is recommended for people at high risk (trappers, hunters, and laboratory workers who work with the organism).
Update Date: 8/14/2002Donna R. Cooper, MD, MPH. Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT