The Public Health Agency of Sweden, or Folkhalsomyndigheten reports 208 cases of tularemia from 14 regions so far this year. This is significantly more compared to a normal year (see below).
Most cases of the disease are reported from the regions of Västerbotten (89 cases), Gävleborg (29 cases), Dalarna (23 cases) and Norrbotten (14 cases). Of the disease cases, 60% are men and 40% are women. The average age is 55 years and the age range is 3-91 years.
As the number of disease cases is usually at its highest in September, the outbreak is expected to grow further in the coming weeks. The spread is usually limited to specific risk areas, which has so far been the case this year as well.
Tularemia can be transmitted to people, such as hunters, who have handled infected animals. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil).
Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing.
Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.
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