Disease Name

Tularemia

Vector Information

Tularemia is a disease that is typically transmitted via the bite of an infected tick or deer fly. Tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Prevention of tularemia involves avoiding contact with ticks, deer flys, and potentially infected animals.

Tularemia infections can be fatal to humans if not treated early with the right type of antibiotics. Besides tick bites, other routes of infection may include handling an infected animal carcass, eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or breathing in the bacteria. Tularemia in humans typically results in symptoms such as sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness. Depending on the route of infection, additional symptoms may include ulcers on the skin or in the mouth, swollen lymph nodes or painful eyes, or a sore throatIf a person believes that they have tularemia, they need to seek medical help for diagnosis and treatment. Tularemia is additionally considered a disease that can be used as a weapon related to bioterrorism. After a person has been infected with Tularemia, symptoms of the disease typically appear 3-5 days post infection, but may take up to 14 days to appear. Diagnosis of tularemia can be difficult and is often mistaken for other, more common illnesses. Confirmation of infection is done through blood tests and cultures. Treatment consists antibiotics lasting 10 to 21 days depending on the stage and severity of the infection. Prevention techniques include using DEET or permetherin repellants when outside and avoiding handling dead animals. Currently, there is a preventative vaccine under review by the FDA to protect laboratorians who routinely work with the bacterium, but this vaccine is not currently available in the US.