Another Mesa County rabbit has tested positive for tularemia from an area southwest of Fruita. This area is a popular recreational space for hikers, bikers and rafters.


The bacterial disease is transmitted through direct contact with infected animals, such as rabbits, squirrels, muskrats and other rodents through tick and deer fly bites.

This is the second rabbit to test positive for tularemia, this summer. The first rabbit was from the east side of the Redlands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Mesa County Health Department urge residents to take precautions while spending time in these areas and anywhere else wildlife is active.

Prevent being exposed to tularemia:

  • Do not handle or feed wild animals.
  • Use insect repellant with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to keep tick and deer flies off your skin.
  • Tularemia bacteria can become airborne when soil is disturbed. Avoid grassy and brushy areas when recreating outdoors.
  • Do not handle or drink untreated water.
  • Protect your pets. Prevent them from hunting or eating wild animals. Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
  • If you need to dispose of an animal carcass on your property, wear gloves and use a long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage bag, and then place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.

Tularemia is treatable. Contact your health care provider if you notice symptoms including sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, swollen glands, dry cough, progressive weakness, an infected ulcer-like bite and difficulty breathing.