In a follow-up to an earlier report, Public Health Officials in Pueblo confirmed a second wild rabbit in under a week tested positive for tularemia.

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

The rabbit appeared to have no contact with people and was collected from the Scarsboro Drive area in Pueblo West, Colorado.

“Tick protection is important, as both of the wild rabbits tested for tularemia over the past week were covered with ticks,” stated Vicki Carlton, program manager in the Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness Division at the Pueblo City-County Health Department. “Ticks and deer fly bites are known to transmit tularemia to humans and their pets.”

This second rabbit tested by the health department confirms tularemia is present in Pueblo West. Public health specialists continue to monitor tularemia activity.

“Because tularemia is currently widespread in Pueblo West, precautions to prevent tularemia infection should always be taken,” emphasized Ms. Carlton.

Tularemia, “rabbit fever,” is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted to humans by the handling of sick or dead animals infected with tularemia. Infection can also occur from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies) as well as exposure to soil and vegetation. Hunters who skin animals without gloves and are exposed to infected blood through an open wound are also at risk.

Typical signs of infection in humans include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics; therefore, should you have any of these early signs, contact your medical provider.

Dogs and cats also get tularemia by eating infected rabbits or other rodents and through tick and deer fly bites. If your pet shows symptoms of illness including fever, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores, take it to a veterinarian promptly. Tularemia is easily treated if diagnosed early in dogs and cats.