What is Tularemia?
Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever”, is a disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It is primarily a disease of the Northern Hemisphere. A variety of animals including rodents, rabbits and hares can be infected by the bacteria. Humans are occasionally infected. Incubation period of the disease ranges from 1 to 14 days, usually 3 to 5 days. Symptoms may be different according to the modes of transmission. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, skin ulcer, enlargement of lymph node, eye pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, cough etc. With appropriate treatment, the disease is rarely fatal.
How does it spread?
Tularemia is usually a rural disease. People become infected through the bite of infected insects (commonly ticks), handling infected sick or dead animals, eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or inhaling airborne bacteria.
How can you prevent it?
Wild animal or dead animal should not be touched with bare hands. Wild game should be cooked thoroughly. Wells or other waters contaminated by dead animals should not be used. Travellers should wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers and use insect repellants to avoid insect bites while in rural areas.
How is it treated?
The disease is treatable with antibiotics.