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    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.


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