Tularemia, or rabbit fever, is a bacterial disease that can infect humans and animals. Although the disease can be found throughout the US, children seem to get hit the hardest in summer when ticks and deer files are at their peek.
Tularemia is commonly spread from blood or tissue while handling infected animals, the bite of an infected tick, contact with fluids from infected deer flies or ticks, or handling or eating insufficiently cooked rabbit meat. Tularemia is not spread from person to person.
Symptoms of Tularemia may vary depending on how it was introduced to the body. In situations where people are infected due to handling an animal carcass, symptoms can include an ulcer at the site where the bacteria entered the skin (usually on the hand and with slow growth).
The ulcerated bite can look much like that of a spider but the swollen lymph nodes can be help in identifying Tularemia. If this bacteria is inhaled, an illness much like pneumonia can follow. If you are unfortunate enough to ingest this bacteria, you may end up with abdominal pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Symptoms usually show within the first two weeks (typically within a week) after exposure and can be treated with streptomycin or gentamicin. Other types of antibiotics may also are effective.
Once you are infected with Tularemia and have recovered, it is not likely that you’ll become infected again.
Measures that can be taken to prevent tularemia include (especially those hunting):
Do not come into contact with untreated water.
Use thick gloves when handling animal (such as skinning a deer).
Try not to be bitten by deer flies and or ticks. This is hard to do, but there are a few steps you can take that may help. They include monitoring clothing for ticks that may be climbing; wearing clothing that will make the tick stand out, such as light colored cloths. Tuck in cloths and wear head protection (net).
You can also use insect repellent that contains a DEET mixture of up the 30 making sure to stay away from the face. Repellent that contains permethrin can be used to treat clothes.
Most important, monitoring yourself for ticks or checking every few hours will help; the reason being is that the tick usually does not transmit disease until they have been attached to your skin for four or more hours!
If you find a tick, make sure you remove it ASAP. The best way to do this is by using tweezers (or whatever is close to tweezers) and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible then pulling straight up (out) without turning. The goal is to get the entire tick and not leave part of the body in the skin. Make sure to wash and clean the area.
Here are some pictures from one of our visitors, Melanie.
1) a couple of days into the tick bite
2) about a week after the tick bite
3) about 10 days after the tick bite