Tularemia Concern in Laramie County

By Staff

Laramie County has had a positive human case of Tularemia recently reported by the Wyoming Department of Health. This represents one of sixteen Tularemia cases with one fatality in the State of Wyoming this year. Normal Tularemia case counts are 1 to 2 a year.

County Health Officer Dr. Stan Hartman stated “that although not a common issue, some simple precautions should be followed.”

Tularemia, “rabbit fever”, or “deer fly fever” frequently affects rabbits, hares and rodents and has been associated with rabbit and rodent die-offs.

Tularemia may be acquired from bites by infected ticks, deer flies or horse flies. The disease can also be transmitted by handling infected animals, or through ingestion or contact with untreated, contaminated water or improperly cooked meat.

Symptoms can include fever, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers and diarrhea. If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness and pneumonia.

If pets bring home dead or dying wildlife dispose of the animals with care to avoid handling the carcass. Pets should be checked for ticks and use tick control products to reduce or eliminate tick issues.

While you are outdoors wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks crawling on clothing, tuck pant legs into socks and apply insect repellents such as those containing 20% or more DEET and /or Picaradin.
Wear rubber gloves when skinning animals, especially rabbits and squirrels; skin animals in a well-ventilated area. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling sick or dead animals.

Questions contact the Division of Environmental Health at the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, 100 Central Avenue Cheyenne, Wyoming 82007 or phone 307-633-4090.