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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tularemia aka Rabbit Fever...

Photos courtesy of Texas A&M University.
Cottontail Rabbit

An outbreak of tularemia has been identified near the Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo, Texas. A health alert has been issued for the area of concern.

Tularemia is a zoonotic disease that can be fatal to humans. Due to the nature of the bacteria it is also considered to be a possible bio-terrorist agent.

It is at this time of year that many people run across wildlife that appear to be injured or abandoned. The temptation of many is to pick these animals up and to offer aid.

A general rule of thumb is: leave wildlife alone.

If you feel that the animal needs assistance then you should call your local animal control authorities.

Things to remember:

*If an adult wild animal is allowing you to get close enough to capture it, then something must be terribly wrong

*Young rabbits that are found in their nests are usually not abandoned. Mother rabbits do not stay in the nest with their young and will only go to the nest to feed them twice each day. Leave baby rabbits in their nest undisturbed.

The bacterium Francisella tularensis can be found anywhere within the United States. The animals that it is most commonly found in are rodents, rabbits, and hares. The bacterium is usually carried and transmitted to animals via ticks, deer flies, or other insects.

How do people contract tularemia?

1.) By being bitten by an infected tick, deerfly or other insect.
2.) By handling infected animal carcasses.
3.) By eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
4.) By breathing in the bacteria.

To learn more about this disease you can go to the Centers of Disease Control's website about tularemia.


Key Facts about Tularemia

Health Officials Suggest Caution in Wake of Tularemia Case

Wild Rabbits Can Pose Health Risk from Tularemia

A Guide To Assisting Wildlife Babies: What to do when you find them


Anonymous Moof said...

Thank you for posting that! Very interesting. I've never heard of a problem with it up here, but we do have Lyme Disease, and a number of other tick and flea borne fevers.

Staying away from sick wild life is always good advice.

June 08, 2006 3:19 AM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I have never heard of that particular disease. Any animal disease that can be passed and is fatal to humans is scary to me.

If I were younger, I may have been tempted to pick up or help a wild animal if I saw one. We used to "nurse" injured birds and rodents back to health. I guess that was a bad idea! Now, I know better.

June 08, 2006 5:12 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

Hey Moof! I know you guys really do have a Lymes disease problem up there. We have some here too but it's not quite as prevalent.

Tick born diseases have become pandemic these days with pets. It is to the point that if your dog has ever had a tick bite, it will have Ehrlichiosis canis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or Lymes.

It's really getting bad.

Now the fairly quiet tularemia seems to be rearing its ugly head.

Hey Pattie... it's hard to tell sometimes if a wild animal is suffering from a fatal disease or just needs some food and water. Usually, the average person wouldn't know how to recognize the difference.

There's a law now that prohibits people from taking in wildlife of any kind unless you have a government wildlife license/permit.

With things like tularemia, it is the ebb and flow of nature. You get a large population of rodents, more than the area can really handle, and then you get a fairly significant die off from disease. Overpopulation always causes more sickness and disease in any type of animal. People too.


June 08, 2006 9:15 PM  

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