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Learn about tick-borne illness, how it can become chronic, the challenges with traditional treatment options, and how patients can begin healing.

Understanding Tularemia

About Tularemia

Tularemia, caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, is a potentially serious illness that affects humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. Also known as “rabbit fever,” these bacteria are commonly found in small mammals like rodents and rabbits, as well as arthropods such as ticks and biting flies.

Humans can contract tularemia through various means, including tick or fly bites, handling infected animals, or inhaling or ingesting the bacteria. The severity of tularemia can vary greatly, with some cases being mild and self-limiting, while others may lead to serious complications. However, fatalities are rare, accounting for less than 2 percent of cases in the United States.

Common Symptoms of Tularemia:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Eye irritation (conjunctivitis)
  • Headache
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin ulcers
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Symptoms typically appear 3 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria, though the onset can range from 1 day to 14 days. Tularemia can manifest in various forms, including ulceroglandular, glandular, oculoglandular, oropharyngeal, pneumonic, and typhoidal, depending on the route of infection and the organs involved.

Preventing tularemia primarily involves avoiding contact with infected animals and minimizing exposure to ticks and biting flies. Pets, particularly cats, can also contract tularemia, so keeping them indoors and preventing them from hunting small animals can help reduce the risk of transmission.

In the event of suspected exposure to tularemia, early recognition and treatment are crucial. Prompt diagnosis is essential for successful management of the disease. Individuals at higher risk of acquiring tularemia include veterinarians, hunters, trappers, landscapers, farmers, and outdoor enthusiasts who frequent areas where ticks and biting flies are prevalent.