Tularemia Fact Sheet

PDF Version for this Fact Sheet


  • Caused by Francisella tularensis.
  • Transmitted to humans by Dermacentor variabilis (the dog tick), Demacentro andersoni (the wood tick), and Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick).
  • Other forms of transmission include deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals, inhaling contaminated dusts or aerosols, drinking contaminated water, or laboratory exposure.

Recognize the symptoms

  • Depending on how the bacterium enters the body, illness ranges from mild to life-threatening.
  • Most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Treatment usually lasts 10 to 21 days depending on the stage of illness and the medication used.
  • All forms of tularemia are accompanied by fever which can be as high as 104 °F.
    • Ulceroglandular - most common form, usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handling an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body and is accompanied by swelling of the regional lymph glands.
    • Glandular - acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.
    • Oculoglandular - occurs when the bacteria enter through the eye. This can occur when a  person is butchering an infected animal and touches his or her eyes. Symptoms include irritation and inflammation of eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.
    • Oropharyngeal - results from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Patients may have sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsilitis, and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.
    • Pneumonic - most serious form, symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism, or when other forms are left untreated.
    • Typhoidal - any combination of the general symptoms, without the localizing symptoms of other forms.
  • Tularemia is a rare disease, and symptoms can be mistaken for other more common illnesses.
  • It is important to share any likely exposures with your health care provider.
  • Blood tests and cultures can help confirm the diagnosis.

Keep ticks off

  • Ticks are most active from late spring through early fall.
  • Insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET is recommended to prevent tick bites.
  • Repellents with up to 30% DEET can safely be used on children over 2 months of age.
  • Treat clothes with permethrin (don't use permethrin directly on skin).
  • Long pants and long sleeves help keep ticks off of skin, and tucking pant legs into socks and shirts into pants keeps ticks on outside of clothing.
  • Light colored clothing lets you spot ticks more easily.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick control products for your pets.
  • When enjoying the outdoors, avoid wooded or brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of traits.
  • Check yourself, your kids and your pets daily for ticks when spending time in tick habitat.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (within 2 hours) to was off ticks.

To remove ticks

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers.
  • Grab the tick close to the skin; do not twist or jerk the tick.
  • Gently pull straight up until all parts of the ticks are removed.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub.
  • Clean the site of the tick bite with soap and water or an antiseptic.
  • Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove ticks.

If you hunt, trap or skin animals

  • ​Use gloves when handling animals, especially rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs, and other rodents.
  • Cook game meat thoroughly before eating.


For more information, visit: