By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed tularemia in a rabbit in northern Larimer County. Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever” has been found across the county in previous years and has resulted in human cases. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, usually from rabbits.
“Because tularemia is naturally occurring in Larimer County, precautions should always be taken to prevent infection, said public health director Tom Gonzales, MPH. “It is important to keep children and pets away from wild animals.”
Tularemia can be transmitted to people, such as hunters, who have handled infected animals. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.
Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands.
Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
Larimer County has reported 18 human tularemia cases and 35 animals positive since 2009.
In addition, health officials learned that a cat recently tested positive for rabies in Fort Collins. This cat was found near the area of Laurel and Mathews street, just east of Colorado State University. The cat was a solid grey younger cat, and people potentially might have been in contact with it in the nearby area.
If you think you might have touched or fed a grey cat matching this description between July 23 and August 7, you might need preventive treatment to make sure you don’t contract rabies. If you had this type of contact, we recommend that you contact your health care provider or call Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-646-1756.
Dr. Chris-Nevin Woods, Medical Director for Larimer County Department of Health and Environment says, “Rabies is a very serious, almost always fatal virus. It is important that anyone who might have touched this cat notify their health care provider or public health to assess risk and any need for treatment.”
Rabies is spread primarily by saliva through the bite of a rabid animal. Once symptoms of rabies infection appear, there is no cure and the infection is fatal. People that have been exposed to rabies can receive medication treatment to prevent illness.
In Larimer County, positive rabies is most often found in skunks and bats but does occasionally cross into domestic animals. So far this year Larimer County has had 47 animals test positive for rabies, the highest confirmed rabies infection across the state of Colorado.