A rabbit has tested positive for tularemia in Mesa County.

Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can affect humans and animals. Rabbits, hares and rodents are especially susceptible. Humans become infected through contact with infected animals, tick or deer fly bites, drinking contaminated water or inhaling contaminated dust.

Dogs and cats are also at risk of contracting tularemia. Pets with fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes or a tender abdomen should be seen by a veterinarian.

Though the rabbit that tested positive was found on the east end of the Redlands, tularemia could be present anywhere.

To prevent tularemia:

  • Wear insect repellent.
  • Do not touch – or use gloves when handling – dead animals or rodents.
  • Avoid running over dead animals with a lawn mower.
  • Stay out of areas where wild rabbits or rodents are present.
  • Wear shoes in areas where rabbits have died.

Symptoms of tularemia vary based on the mode of infection. Fever is almost always present. Other symptoms can include skin ulcers, swollen lymph glands, eye inflammation, sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing.  

Though the infection can be life-threatening, it is often treatable with antibiotics.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control or call 970-254-4120 or visit health.mesacounty.us/zoonoses.