Aug 28, 2014 2:11 PM
EL PASO COUNTY - A wild rabbit in eastern El Paso County died of tularemia infection, according to El Paso County Public Health. Health officials monitoring for plague near Yoder found the rabbit and tested it for tularemia, or "rabbit fever." Plague infection had been identified in the area on August 21.
According to health officials:
Tularemia is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted to humans by the handling of sick or dead animals infected with tularemia. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies). 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 are similar to plague and 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. El Paso County's last reported human case of tularemia occurred in 2010.
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 the veterinarian promptly. Tularemia is easily treated if diagnosed early in dogs and cats.
The health department suggests people take the following precautions: