Health authorities in Kosovo have declared an outbreak of the bacterial disease, tularemia, after recording 206 human cases since the first of the year.
In a Health Ministry statement, “All the teams on the ground are activated in order to prevent new cases of the disease.”
No fatalities have been reported.
Kosovo is no stranger to tularemia reporting 1,221 confirmed cases from 1999 to 2010, according to a study published in Eurosurveillance in 2012.
Also known as rabbit fever and deer fly fever,tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. This bacterium is found in nature in rabbits, rodents, beavers, squirrels and several domestic and farm animals.
People commonly get infected from the bites of infected ticks (wood, dog) and deer flies. Hunters are at risk of infection following skinning, dressing and eating infected animals.
Drinking contaminated water has been implicated in tularemia infection. People also contract it through inhaling dust and hay that have rodent feces and carcasses.
There have been cases where people got infected from a domestic cat. It is believed that cats get the organism from contaminated prey and their mouth and claws become infected.
Certain animal associated occupations are also associated with the disease; farmers, veterinarians, sheepherders and shearers.
The disease in people depends on how it is acquired. After infection, incubation can be a couple of days to weeks, with non-specific symptoms like fever, chills, headache, sore throat and diarrhea.
The way the organism enters the body frequently dictates the disease and degree of systemic involvement. The six syndromes are ulceroglandular, glandular, oculoglandular, oropharyngeal, typhoidal and the one with the highest mortality rate, pneumonic tularemia.
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