By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The number of reported cases of human tularemia has increased significantly in Sweden during the end of July and the beginning of August, according to the Public Health Agency of Sweden, or Folkhälsomyndigheten (computer translated).
A total of 212 confirmed cases have been reported, significantly more than reported during an average year, officials note.
Most cases of illness have been reported from Dalarna, Gävleborg and Örebro counties, but the last week also saw an increase in the counties of Västerbotten and Norrbotten. Since the number of illness cases is usually highest in September, the outbreak is expected to grow further in the coming weeks.
The animals most likely to carry the disease are wild hares, hence the name rabbit fever, aka tularemia and rodents, but it can also be transferred to humans via mosquito bites and occasionally tick bites.
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).
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. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing.
Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.