Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally and is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which is found in animals (especially rodents, rabbits and hares). It is also known as Rabbit Fever or Deer Fly Fever.
There are three types of Tularemia:
- Ulceroglandular – people can contract this disease from the bite of an infected tick or fly, or when an open wound comes into contact with infected meat.
- Inhalational – this form of the disease occurs by inhaling the bacteria.
- Typhoidal – this is a secondary form of Tularemia that develops after a victim has contracted inhalational tularemia.
Tularemia could be weaponized by someone releasing it into the air where it could remain potent for up to two hours, or by using the bacteria to contaminate food or water.
- Ulceroglandular – Symptoms typically appear between 3 to 5 days, but can appear as late as 14 days. Skin ulcers appear at the infection site. Lymph nodes in the area become swollen.
- Inhalational – Symptoms typically appear between 3 to 5 days, but can appear as late as 14 days. Early symptoms are similar to the flu and include sudden fever, chills, coughing, joint pain, weakness, and headaches. Later symptoms include inflamed eyes, oral ulcers, severe pneumonia, chest pain, and respiratory failure.
- Typhoidal – This form attacks the circulatory system as well as the respiratory system. Other symptoms include fever, extreme exhaustion and weight loss.
All forms of tularemia can be successfully treated with antibiotics including streptomycin, gentamicin or doxycycline.
The choice of antibiotics is determined by factors such as the person’s age or health.
For more extensive information about these agents, please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.