For The Journal
The Montezuma County Public Health Department reported on Wednesday that a local rabbit has tested positive for tularemia, but so far, no human cases have been reported in the county.
According to Lauri Wood, epidemiologist for MCPHD, there have been no reports of human cases of tularemia, often know as rabbit fever.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease often found in rabbits, hares and rodents. Humans can become infected through tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals, contaminated water and contaminated aerosols or dust.
Symptoms may include sudden fever and chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, progressive weakness or enlarged lymph nodes. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to tularemia should contact their health care provider.
To prevent possible tick and deer fly bites, use insect repellents containing 20-30 percent DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to keep ticks and deer flies off your skin.
Remove attached ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers.
When mowing or landscaping, don’t mow over sick or dead animals. If you hunt, trap or skin animals, use gloves when handling them, and cook game meat thoroughly before eating.
If you notice sick or dying rabbits, or areas where there are dead rabbits, contact the Montezuma County Public Health Department at 970-565-3056. Don’t handle dead rabbits.