By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources recently learned from lab results that wild cottontail rabbit carcasses found on private land in Elkhart County near Middlebury tested positive for tularemia.

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While tularemia can be transmitted to humans, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is not aware of any human cases of tularemia in the area at this time.

“Seeing a local die-off of rabbits during a tularemia outbreak is not unusual,” said Dr. Jennifer Brown, state public health veterinarian at IDOH. “You can prevent exposure to tularemia bacteria by wearing insect repellent and avoiding contact with sick or dead animals.”

According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), pets are also susceptible to the bite of tick, flea or fly infected with tularemia. The bacteria can also be spread to pets by contact with water or soil that has been contaminated by an infected animal, by the bite from or consumption of an infected animal, or by the inhalation of contaminated particles. Among other signs of tularemia infection, dogs and cats may exhibit anorexia, fever, depression, enlarged lymph nodes and abscesses. If you suspect a pet has tularemia, contact a veterinarian.

According to IDOH, if people contract tularemia, they can be treated with antibiotics. Residents of the Middlebury area should seek medical attention if they develop fever or respiratory symptoms within two weeks of potential exposure to sick or dead rabbits, tick bites, or aerosols of dust, or to soil or grasses from mowing, raking, plowing, or similar activities.

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