A rabbit from the east side of the Redlands has tested positive for tularemia. Residents should be aware tularemia could present in animals anywhere in Mesa County and should avoid contact with wild animals.

Wild Rabbit Image/Dtw2tv
Wild Rabbit

Tularemia is bacteria commonly found in rabbits, hares and rodents. In previous years, Mesa County has had high tularemia activity. In 2015, Mesa County had one probable and three confirmed human cases of tularemia, consistent with an increase noted statewide.

In 2015, Colorado health officials recorded 37 rodent and wildlife species that tested positive for tularemia. 52 human cases of tularemia were reported last year, more than half the total of cases seen during the previous decade.

LISTEN: Colorado Department of Health Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer House, discusses tularemia on the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show in 2014

Protect yourself and your family from tularemia:

  • Avoid handling dead or sick animals.
  • If a dead animal must be moved, avoid direct contact with it.
    • Place the carcass in a garbage bag using a long-handled shovel.
    • Double bag the carcass.
    • Dispose of the carcass in a sealed outdoor garbage can, away from people and pets.
  • Reduce rodent habitat around your home, workplace and recreational areas.
    • Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood and other nesting areas from your property.
    • Make sure pet food is sealed.
    • Make sure your home and outbuildings are rodent-proof.
  • Animals, including your pets, can carry tularemia.
    • Do not allow your pets to consume animal carcasses.
    • Leash your pets when outdoors and keep them from dead animals.
    • Talk with your veterinarian about tick and flea prevention for your pets, as some diseases can be spread through tick and/or flea bites.
  • Use insect repellant containing DEET to prevent tick and deer fly bites, which can also spread tularemia.

Symptoms of tularemia include skin ulcers at the site of infection, swollen and painful lymph glands, fever, chills, headache and exhaustion. Tularemia is treatable with antibiotics. Contact your health care provider immediately if you have symptoms.