A Boulder County, Colorado child has contracted the bacterial infection, tularemia, according to a Times-Call report yesterday.

Image/Gorman Lewis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Image/Gorman Lewis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A 9 News report today identifies the child as Chayse Kluger. The boy’s mother, Linda Pellett says her son had a high fever that wouldn’t break and took him to the hospital. The boy was diagnosed with tularemia and is being treated at the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

How young Chayse contracted the bacterium is somewhat of a mystery. It is suspected he was bitten by an insect vector. He is scheduled to be released from the hospital today.

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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.

Related: Plague warning in Boulder, Colorado

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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