CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Tularemia

(Rabbit Fever; Deer-Fly Fever)

Definition

Tularemia is a rare bacterial infection. The effects of the infection will depend on where the exposure occurs. It can be deadly if not treated.

Causes    TOP

Tularemia is caused by specific bacteria. It is normally found in small animals, such as mice and rabbits. The bacteria can pass to humans through:

  • Bites of infected animals, ticks, or deer flies
  • Contact with an infected animal's tissues or contaminated water, food, or soil; can enter the body through the lungs, eyes, mouth, nose, or skin

The infection does not pass between people.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of tularemia include:

  • Hunting, trapping, or butchering infected animals
  • Working with infected animals or their tissue
  • Working in a laboratory with the bacteria
  • Eating meat from an infected animal
  • Being bitten by an infected mosquito or tick
  • Biological terrorism

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms usually occur 3-5 days after exposure. The symptoms will depend on where the bacteria entered the body, the type and amount of bacteria you were exposed to, and your immune system.

Pneumonic symptoms (lung problems):

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Burning sensation or pain in chest

Ulceroglandular symptoms (skin and lymph gland problems):

  • Raised, red bump that continues to swell
  • Raised area opens, drains pus, and forms an ulcer
  • May form a dark scab
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Chills

Glandular symptoms (problems in lymph nodes):

  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes

Oculoglandular symptoms (problems in eyes and lymph nodes):

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing
  • Puffy eyelid
  • Swelling, redness, and sores in the eye
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Oropharyngeal symptoms (mouth and throat problems):

  • Irritated membranes in the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers in the throat or on tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Intestinal symptoms:

Typhoidal symptoms (full body problems):

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cough

Symptoms of progression from other types:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Organ failure
  • Shock
  • Death

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen Lymph Nodes
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. You will be also asked about possible sources of exposure. A physical exam will also be done.

Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Culture of body fluids
  • Skin test
  • Blood test

Images may be needed. This can be done with a chest x-ray.

Treatment    TOP

Antibiotics can treat most tularemia infections. The first few doses of antibiotics will be injected in a muscle or given through a vein. You may need to take antibiotics by mouth for a few days after the initial dose. Treatment can last for 10-14 days. Make sure to take all of your medication even if you feel better.

Tularemia infections are reported to public health officials. This will help them track any outbreaks.

Prevention    TOP

Measures to prevent the disease include:

  • Do not handle sick or dead animals.
  • Wear gloves, mask, and goggles if skinning or butchering animals.
  • Completely cook game meats.
  • Take precautions if you live in an area with ticks or deer flies:
    • Wear protective clothing.
    • Use tick repellant.
    • Check skin often for ticks.
    • Do not touch a tick with your hand.
  • Follow precautions when working in a laboratory.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov
UPMC Center for Health Security
http://www.upmchealthsecurity.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Tularemia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 22, 2015.
Tularemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113638/Tularemia. Updated February 1, 2016. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Tularemia. Illinois Department of Public Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed January 22, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L Horn, MD
Last Updated: 1/13/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000