The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) issued a tularemia warning today after recent human and animal cases reported in northern Wyoming.
“Recently, we are hearing about rabbit die-offs and have seen tularemia cases confirmed in two Weston County residents, in dead voles near Devils Tower in Crook County and in a Washakie County cat,” said Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with WDH. “Tularemia is always a concern but is not common. To see this activity is concerning.”
Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever” or “deer fly fever,” frequently affects rabbits, hares and
rodents and has been associated with rabbit and rodent die-offs. People may acquire tularemia when bit by infected ticks, deer flies or horse flies. It can also be transmitted by handling infected animals, or through ingestion or contact with untreated, contaminated water or insufficiently cooked meat.
Murphy said tularemia can be a serious disease and, in rare cases, deadly. Tularemia symptoms can include fever, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers and diarrhea. If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness and pneumonia.