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Another Mesa County rabbit has tested positive for tularemia from an area southwest of Fruita. This area is a
popular recreational space for hikers, bikers and rafters.
The bacterial disease is transmitted
through direct contact with infected animals, such as rabbits, squirrels,
muskrats and other rodents through tick and deer fly bites.
This is the second rabbit to test
positive for tularemia, this summer. The first rabbit was from the east side of
the Redlands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Mesa County Health
Department urge residents to take precautions while spending time in these
areas and anywhere else wildlife is active.
Prevent
being exposed to tularemia:
 
  • Do not handle or feed
    wild animals.
  • Use insect repellant
    with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wear long pants, long
    sleeves and long socks to keep tick and deer flies off your skin.
  • Tularemia bacteria can
    become airborne when soil is disturbed. Avoid grassy and brushy areas when
    recreating outdoors.
  • Do not handle or
    drink untreated water.
  • Protect your pets.
    Prevent them from hunting or eating wild animals. Contact a veterinarian if
    your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
  • If you need to
    dispose of an animal carcass on your property, wear gloves and use a
    long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage bag, and then place the bag in an
    outdoor garbage can.

Tularemia is treatable. Contact your
health care provider if you notice symptoms including sudden fever, chills,
headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, swollen glands, dry cough,
progressive weakness, an infected ulcer-like bite and difficulty breathing.

Report animal die-offs to the Mesa
County Health Department Communicable Disease team at (970) 254-4120.