The second positive case of human "Rabbit Fever" found in Pueblo today.
“Human tularemia cases are rare; however, this is the first time since 2000 that Pueblo has experienced two cases in the same year,” said Alicia Solis, Program Manager at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. “Pueblo residents, especially those in Pueblo West, are urged to take extra precautions to protect themselves from tularemia causing bacteria that is most often found in rodents, rabbits, and contaminated soil, dirt or water.”
The first case of Tularemia was reported in June of this year.
Tularemia can be spread through soil contaminated with droppings or urine of sick animals such as rabbits which causes bacteria in the air that can be inhaled when a person mows, blows leaves, or turns up soil.
“Because this is the second reported case in a specific area, residents should exercise caution when mowing weeds or grass, disturbing the soil in their yards, or handling pets or animals that spend time outdoors,” emphasized Solis.
Signs of infection include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing but can be treated with antibiotics and those with symptoms are encouraged to contact your medical provider.
Pets can also contract Tularemia by eating infected rabbits or rodents or through tick and deer fly bites. Pueblo County is encouraging pet owners to protect their pets by using flea and tick prevention or taking their pets to the veterinarian. Signs of the illness include fever, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores.
Recommended precautions include:
- Avoid handling wild animals.
- When outdoors near places where wild rabbits or rodents are present, wear insect repellent with DEET.
- Use a dust mask when mowing or doing yard work. Do not mow over animal carcasses.
- Wear shoes covering your feet when outdoors where dead animals have been found.
- Do not go 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 unpurified water from streams or lakes or allow your pets to drink surface waters.
- Leash your pets when outdoors and keep them away from dead animals
- Routinely use a tick and flea prevention treatment on pets.
- If a dead animal must be moved, avoid direct contact with the carcass. Wear insect repellent to protect yourself from fleas or ticks and use a long-handled shovel to scoop up the carcass.
- Place the carcass in a garbage bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle. Wash your hands with soap and water afterward.
For more information about Tularemia, visit www.cdc.gov/tularemia
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