First human case of tularemia in Pueblo County

First human case of tularemia in Pueblo County

PUEBLO, Colorado (KKTV) – The Pueblo County Health Department confirmed the first case of human tularemia in 2022 in a child.

“Pueblo residents, especially those who live in Pueblo West, are advised that bacteria that cause tularemia may be present in some mammals, particularly rabbits, ferrets, and hares, and on land where these animals may be active,” Program Alicia Solis Program Director in the Pueblo Department of Public Health and the Environment . Solis added, “Cases of human tularemia are rare, but some activities may increase the risk of disease. These activities may include inhaling or drinking contaminated water or soil, skin contact with infected animals, or bites from ticks or deer fly.”

Tularemia, also known as ‘rabbit fever, can spread through contaminated soil’ with the droppings or urine of sick animals such as rabbits, and the bacteria that cause tularemia can be volatilized and inhaled when a person cuts or blows leaves or turns the soil.”

“Since tularemia is known to occur in Pueblo County, precautions should always be taken to prevent tularemia infection, especially when mowing weeds or lawns and when soil is disturbed,” Solis emphasized.

Pueblo County Health says dogs and cats can contract tularemia by eating infected rabbits or other rodents and through tick and deer fly bites. If your animal develops symptoms such as fever, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores, take the pet to the vet as soon as possible. Officials say tularemia is easily treatable if diagnosed early in dogs and cats.

Typical symptoms of tularemia in humans include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and cough. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics. Call your medical provider if these early signs are present.

Pueblo County Health made the following recommendations:

Recommended precautions include:

  • Avoid handling wild animals.
  • When outdoors, near areas where hares or rodents are present, use DEET repellent.
  • Use a dust mask when mowing or doing yard work. Do not trim animal carcasses.
  • Wear shoes that cover your feet when you are outside where dead animals have been found.
  • Don’t walk barefoot or wear sandals while gardening, mowing, or landscaping.
  • Wear gloves while gardening or landscaping and wash your hands after these activities.
  • Do not drink impure water from streams or lakes or allow your pets to drink surface water.
  • Raise your pets when you are outside and keep them away from dead animals.
  • Routinely use a treatment to prevent ticks and fleas on pets.
  • If a dead animal must be transported, avoid direct contact with the carcass. Wear an insect repellent to protect yourself from fleas or ticks, and use a long-handled shovel to pick up the body.
  • Place the carcass in a trash bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash receptacle. Wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

If you hunt, hunt, or catch animals on the skin, take additional steps:

  • Use gloves that do not allow liquid to pass through when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits.
  • Cook rabbit meat thoroughly until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

click here More information from the CDC.

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