Tularemia has been identified
as a disease of concern to human, wildlife and domestic animal populations
within the United States. It, like plague, is considered a "Category
A" disease by the Department of Homeland Security, meaning
it could potentially be used as a bioterrorist agent.
Tularemia is found most often in the South-Central and Western US, mostly
in rural areas. It is also found internationally, throughout the Northern
Hemisphere in places like Japan, Russia and Scandinavia.
Tularemia is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Francisella
Tularemia mostly affects, and is reservoired within, a variety of mammals
including (but not limited to) beavers, water voles, rabbits, hares,
skunks and coyotes.
The disease is not contagious from human to human, but can be spread
by the bites of fleas, ticks and other arthropods that have fed on infected
wildlife, or by contact with the carcass of the infected animal. Reported
human cases of tularemia in the United States currently average about
200 yearly, a dramatic reduction from the over 1,000 cases per year
that occurred in the 1930s and 1940s.
NWDP biologists and their collaborators are currently sampling aquatic
rodents and other susceptible species across the US to detect the presence
of tularemia antibodies in their blood. Due to the focus on early detection,
local health professionals can be alerted when tularemia is present
in a region and take this into consideration when examining certain
In humans, tularemia first emerges as a flu-like illness. Depending
on the method of exposure to the bacterium, infected individuals may
also experience lesions, swollen lymph glands and even the development
of pneumonia. When these symptoms are positively identified as tularemia,
they can be treated with prescription antibiotics.
Tularemia Surveillance Updates
Tularemia Surveillance Update Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2010
NWDP Tularemia Surveillance Update May 2011
More information on tularemia:
Center for Disease
Book (download page)
Thomas Gidlewski, DVM
4101 Laporte Ave
Fort Collins, CO 805021